(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Advanced Microdevices Manuals | Linear Circuits Manuals | Supertex Manuals | Sundry Manuals | Echelon Manuals | RCA Manuals | National Semiconductor Manuals | Hewlett Packard Manuals | Signetics Manuals | Fluke Manuals | Datel Manuals | Intersil Manuals | Zilog Manuals | Maxim Manuals | Dallas Semiconductor Manuals | Temperature Manuals | SGS Manuals | Quantum Electronics Manuals | STDBus Manuals | Texas Instruments Manuals | IBM Microsoft Manuals | Grammar Analysis | Harris Manuals | Arrow Manuals | Monolithic Memories Manuals | Intel Manuals | Fault Tolerance Manuals | Johns Hopkins University Commencement | PHOIBLE Online | International Rectifier Manuals | Rectifiers scrs Triacs Manuals | Standard Microsystems Manuals | Additional Collections | Control PID Fuzzy Logic Manuals | Densitron Manuals | Philips Manuals | The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly Debates | Linear Technologies Manuals | Cermetek Manuals | Miscellaneous Manuals | Hitachi Manuals | The Video Box | Communication Manuals | Scenix Manuals | Motorola Manuals | Agilent Manuals
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The truth about Camilla"

Google 



This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 



^^AJVilJU^A 



GERTRUDE 
HALL 



THE 
TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 



JSoofi0 b^ 0etttu5e f)all 



Far from To-day 

Foam of the Sea 

The Hundred and Other Stories 

The Wagnerian Romances 

Allegretto 
Age of Fairy-Gold 

April^s Sowing 
The Unknown Quantity 

Translations 

Cyrano de Bergerac 

Chantecler 

Poems by Paul Verlaine 



) « 




She opened the luissive, read, then sat a while — petrified. 



THE 
TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 



ST 
GERTRUDE HALL 

Hoa OP "aful'! MVMa," "t 

mfncomi aDAanrr," rg. 




O' 



NEW YORK 

THE CENTUBY CO. 

1918 



THE NEW YORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 

A^'lOB, LENOX AND 

aUDEN FOUNDATKWS 

B 1945 L 



Copyright, 1913, by 
The Cektuby Co. 



Publiahed, October, 1913 



TO 
FLORENCE BLOOD 

SCHOOI^liATB AND UFB-LONO PRIKND 

IN FOND RKlfKliBRANCB 

OPOUK 

FLOUUfTINB TKARS 






I ■ 

I 



BOOK FIBST 

THB UTTLB BDQIAlfl 



THE 
TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 



CHAPTEB I 

NOT haying seen his friends for seyeral years, Don Iginio, 
upon entering the Garden of Simples in search of them, 
looked around the more observantly that he did not know very 
precisely what he was looking for. His eyes rested on one 
childish face after the other, scanning it for something familiar. 
In this there was selection: his inquiry limited itself to the 
class called common. 

There were many more children than grown people, the garden 
was their especial domain on such fine Sunday afternoons. 

He moved leisurely down one shady avenue after the other, 
taking time now and then to decipher the Latin name of a 
tree on its weather-worn zinc label. His long straight robe 
and great three-cornered beaver made a telling black note amid 
all that leaf-green, sun-gold and gravel-gray. 

Around the fountain, strewn with morsels of bread that the 
satiated gold-fish refused, was the most popular play-ground. 
On one of the seats bordering this he spied, unmistakable, Bat- 
tistina, the Aunt. 

She was as much as ever like a large soft pillow with a string 
tied around its middle. Above the shapeless mass of her, un- 
changed, the neat and shapely head, the sweet and mournful 
Venetian eyes with eyelids stained a soft pansy brown, and always 
looking as if she but recently had wept. 

She was very sleepy. If the seat had been furnished with 

8 



4 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

a back, there is little doubt how she would have been employed. 
As it was, she held her hands placidly folded on the part of the 
pillow just below the string, and, solidly settled on her center 
of gravity, with eyes closed, a basking smile faint on her lips, 
allowed Morpheus all but quite to possess her. In modest cele- 
bration of the day, she had put in her longer ear-rings, and on 
her head, instead of the common pezzola, a triangle of black 
woolen lace. 

The children would naturally not be far, thought the priest. 
Near her knees in fact was a small boy in a pinafore, doing 
important things with a handful of acorns. That must be the 
baby. Olancing around for the others, he saw so many little 
girls at play that he gave up the attempt to pick out the faces 
he remembered. They had probably changed out of memory 
anyhow. 

He placed himself in front of his old acquaintance. ^^ Well, 
Sora Battistina? ^' 

She did not start, but opening her eyes a shade wider, smiled 
with a shade less of apathy, and gently looked recognition. He 
was as unmistakable as she. Visitors to his little church at 
Fonte Buona often remembered him when they had long for- 
gotten the Mino da Fiesole of which it was his privilege to point 
out the beauties. He was not much over four feet tall, com- 
pact as lead, — straight-shouldered and straight-legged how- 
ever, and not somehow suggestive of a dwarf. His hair was 
black as his hat, his shaven cheeks were swart with potentiali- 
ties of beard; his eyes a brown so deep that the pupil could 
hardly be distinguished from the iris; and, as if to carry out 
a favorite scheme of color, his teeth were as brown as his eyes, 
were mahogany teeth, — a detail singularly devoid of unpleas- 
antness, noticed chiefly as a curiosity, like blue hair on a 
Buddha. 

Aunt Battistina seldom spoke unless to answer. Those who 
knew her being accustomed to this, Don Iginio, after obtain- 
ing permission to seat himself on her bench, took the lead in 
conversation. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 5 

""WeU, Mrs. Battistiiia? (""MM! " is what he said, ''Mb«, Sora 
BattistinaP'') I am glad to find yon. I am down from Fonte 
Buona for a day or two on business of the diocese. What a 
time it takes to come by the diligence! Andthedustl Whewl 
. . . Seizing the opportunity to present my respects, I went 
to the house. Nobody at home. As I am turning away, a 
neighbor calls out from across the street that you have taken 
the children to the Garden of Simples. I inquire for Sor 
Antenore — She couldn't say. Well, and how is every- 
body ?'* 

'^ All well, thanks to God.'' 

" And the children? Which are the children ? " 

'^ Here is Olindo." She indicated the little man busy in the 
gravel at her feet, and in that glance perceiving how his milk- 
teeth tentatively investigated an acorn, she with a sound of ex- 
ecration for that food of pigs shoc^ it out of his hand. ** This 
naughty boy I cannot take my eyes off for one minute but he 
gets me into mischief — Shame I Will you never learn better ? 
. . . That over yonder is Bianca, in the red and white check, 
and Camilla is the one further off, standing by herself, the 
center of a ring." 

Olindo had risen, and forgetting the injuries done to him stood 
staring at the unknown as it were with five organs, — two black 
eyes, two little round black nostrils, which pointed straight ahead, 
and his roundly open little mouth. 

The priesfs glance easily found Camilla, — alone, the center 
of a ring, — and dwelt interested from the first instant on the 
dark-haired, long-legged nine-year-old, who with descriptive ges- 
tures and dominating voice was giving directions to the rest. 

^ You, Bianca, shall be the man with the whip. You, Bichetta, 
the band. The others are spectators, and must clap loudly and 
long when I have finished. Now I " And she plunged into the 
play mapped out. Only, before doing the part assigned to her- 
self, she appropriated the first-fruits of the parts granted to the 
others. She cracked the whip, she got the band under way, 
Zim BoumI Zim BoumI After which, striking her petticoats 



6 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

with a switch, she started ambling in a circle around Bianca, and 
her expression showed that she was now not herself but some- 
body far grander. She was, by her fixed smile and conscious 
radiance it might be known, the cynosure of a thousand admir- 
ing eyes. Now and then with a cry she sprang high in the 
air, to clear an invisible barrier. Gradually increasing her 
speed, she put herself through manifold paces and posturea, all 
to a pulsating rhythm which indicated that these things were 
done on horseback. Finally jumping from her courser of air, 
with an imperious aside to the audience, " Applaud ! Applaud I " 
a honeyed, intense smile stretching her lips to their limit, she 
kissed her hand to right and left, and bowing innumerably 
backed out of the ring. 

" Antenore took us to the circus, to celebrate his liberty, the 
night after he was released,'* Battistina apathetically explained. 
" Camilla I ** she cried, " Bianca ! Children ! Come here ! ** 

'^ No, no, don't call them,'' the prie^ checked her. ** Don't dis- 
turb them in their play. I should like to see what she does next. 
. . . So Antenore has again been in prison?" And reserving 
just enough attention for the aunt to enable him to keep up a 
scrappy, familiar conversation, he devoted his eyes to the young 
ones. 

He had just seen Camilla impersonating a creature of inflam- 
matory loveliness. He was surprised, when she dropped the 
part, to perceive how near the unfledged birdling came to being 
ugly, — teeth and nose too important, all the rest too eager and 
thin. Searching her face, with a sii^ular prejudice of interest, 
for some promise of beauty, he took note hopefully of the slender 
black eyebrows, drawn with great delicacy to arch and droop 
over the unusual greenish eyes. The female face formed of 
course no proper study for the likes of him, still, he had looked 
at it to some purpose in works of art, and those eyebrows he 
believed to be beautiful. 

His look passed from Camilla to Bianca. The younger sister, 
notwithstanding the temporary loss of teeth, was in a way the 
prettier, but it was a very ordinary way, she had no such thing 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA T 

to show in her little popular Florentine phiz as those fine, 
filender^ sweeping eyebrows, so pure in line, perfect. 

The children were now in a cluster around Camilla who was 
proposing a new game. She went through a pantomime not 
yery intelligible from a distance, though part of it was pre- 
sumably concerned with the decoration of her person. Her 
voluble hands coidd be imagined describing rich chains looped 
upon her breast. The children presently stood in a group at 
one side, and Camilla again by herself. One after the other, her 
little companions went up to her, and bowing over them with 
a smile of infinite graciousness she made belieye to place some- 
thing in their hands, whereupon thqr kissed her hand, dropped 
a curtsey and withdrew, she following them with that look of 
peculiarly majestic beneyolence. The striking thing in the per- 
formance was the real aptness of that childish caricature of 
greatness, the look of high-nosed, remote distinction which 
Camilla contriyed to impart to her face and eyery measured 
gesture. 

'^ What is it ? '' asked the priest of Battistina. But Battistina 
shook her ignorant head, expressing no curiosity whatever of her 
own. 

He gave a prolonged *^ Pssst^'' and a little girl who turned at 
the sound he beckoned to him with a smile of secrecy and inyi* 
tation. The child watched him, hesitating a moment, then 
slipped from the others and came running. 

*' One would like to know at what game you are playing.** 

"We are playing at the Principessa Margherita distributing 
prizes to orphan girls!*' And she darted off, in a breathless 
hurry, lest she shoidd miss her prize. 

" It was in the paper,** Battistina remarked. '' Antenore read 
it aloud.** 

That comedy played to its finish, a new comedy was promptly 
on, and with undiminished vitality carried from point to point, 
the priest feeling a very genuine curiosity as to the argument. 
More agitating than anything that had gone before, this was. 
A passionate drama! Drama? . . . No, perdinci, this was 



8 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

no play, this was sober earnest. Camilla had been offended and 
CamiUa was indignant. The talk was so excited, he could 
not make head or tail of it. There was mutiny, he judged, a 
faction in revolt. Camilla chattering rapidly was giving her 
ultimatum. Having delivered herself, she walked off. 

Battistina murmured, " Always like that ! Superba! Prepo^ 
tenter' 

With gloomy dignity Camilla walked further and further 
toward solitude. She had nearly reached the spot where turning 
a corner she must be cut off from view, when she came to a 
standstill, clasped her hands behind her and gazed up at a bird. 

There was consultation among the leaderless constituency. 
Several minutes passed, minutes of doubt and ennui. Then a 
delegation detached itself from the body, headed by Bianca, its 
promoter, and moved down the walk to Camilla. Their pro- 
pitiatory speech was answered by vigorous denunciation. Con- 
ditions were laid down in a high voice, over a high unconceding 
chin. Then all came peacefully back to the earlier playground, 
and in a trice a new game was playiug. 

It involved the use of a stone seat, and by this necessity the 
children were drawn away beyond earshot. Upon the seat lay 
Camilla flat on her back, bauds folded and eyes closed, her 
brief draperies straightly composed over her knees, her large 
childish feet pointing stiffly heavenward. On her face a really 
extraordinary expression, the essence of sanctimony, supernatural 
peace. . . • 

What the surrounding followers were doing was not dear. 
Now and then it seemed to Don Iginio that, disturbing her waxen 
mask as little as possible, Camilla murmured commands to them, 
spurred by which they cast up their hands in wonder and ad- 
miration, and wagged their heads one to the other. Some of 
them were kneeling. 

"What is it, do you know?^' he asked Battistina. 

But again she shook her ignorant head, indifferent, as one for 
whom all this totally lacked the spice of novelty. 

Yielding to his curiosity, he finally stole near enough to 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 9 

listen, and after a moment returned, all his brown lacquer teeth 
bared inagrin. 

^She is the corpse of Saint Margaret of Cortona/' he told 
Battistina^ ^performing miracles and emitting a heavenly 

odorl*' 

In the nighty when deep sleep falleth upon men, — while in 
the low chamber which got whateyer light visited it from a 
ground-glass lunette just above the floor, architecturally part 
of the front door, Aunt Battistina with Olindo beside her 
dreamed of who knows what good days in Venice, and Camilla 
and Bianca on their husk-mattress rested sweetly after Sunday's 
labor of play, — the country priest, in another quarter of the 
city, wakened by some casual street-noise, lay a long time re- 
membering the afternoon. 

The more he thought of it, the more it seemed a shame and a 
pity that such talents as he had seen displayed — to his simple 
mind they were prodigious I — should go to waste amid the 
obscure roads and byways trodden by the poor. 

He reviewed it all minutely, smiling in the dark at some of 
Camilla's airs, at words he had caught. '^ Bianca, if you say 
pianere again I shall slap you. One might think we were people 
without education. Panieref Pan-v^-rel Say it after me, 
little ninny, little ignoramus ! '^ 

On the way home Bianca had confidingly taken his hand and 
skippety-hopped alongside of him. Camilla had walked a little 
apart, and he had seen that the eye turned upon him sideways 
in persistent study was worthy of its eyebrow, a gem of an eye, 
steady, lucent, and green. 

B^hing the house, he had lingered in hope of seeing Ante- 
nore. To entertain him the children had recited their pieces, 
Camilla with poise and diainvoUura, Bianca in a nasal sing- 
song, after much fidgeting. 

Yes, education, education, there was the great thing; cultiva- 
tion, that those rich germs might come to the fruit they prom- 
ised. And then in the great orchard of the world, by (Jod's 



\ 



10 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

favor, a position of some little eminence^ that the brilliant 
fruit might shine where it had a chance to be seen. He sighed, 
thinking of the hard and fixed doom which after a few years' 
schooling at the Sisters' — good souls, God love them, but them- 
selves a very ignorant tribe, — would bind her down for life to 
the common labors of the people, and the imagination which had 
delighted him, with wingfeathers cut to the bone, flap no higher 
than the mouth, which must be supplied with food. He had no 
more than the learning indispensable for the priesthood ; all the 
more he prized the' ideal of education, held education in almost 
superstitious reverence, passport into avenues of a great world 
closed to him. 

The moral aspect of Camilla's single-minded determination 
to have the center of the stage and the spotlight did not strike 
the priest, it must be confessed, to offend his nostril by any 
whiff of the deadly sin Superbia. He came of lowly folk, the 
vices of the powerful, which he denounced, in reality imposed 
on him. When arrogance had its excuse in unquestionable 
superiority, the mean whom it oppressed must not complain too 
much, nay, might reasonably feel a little flattered. The question 
of pride however, had not risen within him for discussion; he 
accepted Camilla's tyranny as legitimate, since she had the force 
to establish it. There was in it, truth to tell, something vaguely 
gratifying to his feelings, as there is, to any of us, in a fresh 
example of an ancient saying, such, for instance, as that blood 
will tell. 

His thoughts left the Garden of Simples, to go straying 
among old times and old events, destinies whose secret tangles 
had lain unraveled before him ; coming back after a time to the 
reflection, touched with melancholy resignation, "And that 
genius will wither ineffectual! That temperament waste its 
fire beneath a bushel I " 

He thought of it as inevitable, and the Italian peasant's pro- 
verbial patience was expressed in the sigh with which he turned 
over to try to sleep. Still, even as he grew drowsy the face of 
his little former parishioner was before him. The eyebrows es- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 11 

pecially^ he dwelt on the beauty of the eyebrows, and an adjec- 
tive qualifying them f ormed, quite by itself, and drifted across 
hk mind . . . whereupon the soporific fumes were dispelled, 
and his eyes opened wakefully again, to consider an idea, — an 
idea which had come to him in the wake of that word. 



CHAPTEE II 

I If pursuance of his idea, Don Iginio started forth on the 
morning after in the neighborhood of eleven, at which hour 
a certain experience of the world told him that a man of leisure 
would be dressed but would probably not yet have gone out. He 
turned under the lofty vaulted carriage-entrance of a mansion, 
at the interior end of which gleamed and fluttered in sun and 
wind a garden, and ascertaining from the doorkeeper, very 
respectful to his cloth, that the master was at home, climbed 
the stone stairs to the first floor. 

To the man who opened he gave his name, adding, " Prom 
Fonte Buona," and asked to see Count Mari. The internal 
weakness produced by a sense of his own audacity, he covered 
by a more than usual sturdy front. In a minute or two the 
servant returning ushered him into the study. 

He had calculated to a nicety. A faint odoriferous freshness 
clinging to the person of the Count, the unbroken precision of 
his dress and hair, with the still raw scent of eau de cologne on 
his pocket handkerchief, suggested that he had just left the 
dressing-room; while hat and cane and gloves laid in readiness 
on a comer of the writing-table indicated that he was about to 
go out. He moved forward, with affable alertness, premvroso, 
to shake hands. 

His manners were perfection. High and low, male and 

female, he treated with the flawless form of solicitous courtesy 

alone beseeming a gentleman of the loftiest pretensions. High 

and low, male and female, but most especially — while we are 

talking about him, — female! With the sex he was wont to 

practice a quite universal gallantry, wearing the air of humbly 

holding them above criticism, all angels, divinities, babies, lambs, 

12 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 13 

doveB^ roses, while man was a rough brute whom it was too good 
of them to tolerate. This mamier we associate with the elderly 
beau, but Count Mari, now 45, had had it, one might say, all 
his life. Having early found tiiat women did not take to him, 
he had discovered that by such flattery he could secure at least 
indulgent attention, always enough to start with. 

At first sight it woidd have been difBcult to say why he was not 
more attractive. Descendant of the large-boned invaders who 
came from the North, he was tall and well-built, of the blond 
Italian lype, — what Italians themselves call blond, which may 
be anything from brown to flaxen. His features, without beauty, 
were yet neither ill-shaped nor disagreeable; his mouth lay in 
hiding behind a great chestnut mustache, like his king's, 
(this was in the yea? 1872, and Victor Emanuel II reigned over 
Italy and Sardinia). Was it that, his upon-occasion insinuating 
smile and languishing look notwithstanding, he was felt by the 
instinctive creatures to be a cold man, fundamentally cold? 
His eye might surround itself with wrinkles of sympathetic 
mirth, or gaze xmspeakable sentiments, it was behind all this a 
cold eye, and what he really thought it did not say. In dress he 
was elegant almost to a fault, external symbol of his search after 
saecess with the fair; his scarf-pin was a yellow pearl, he per^ 
famed himself, and he wore rings. But it was the dandjrism of 
a serious man, after all, and did not prevent Carlo Onof rio Mari 
from being a figure of a certain solidity in the general regard, 
man of extensive reading as he was, modem, progressive, a 
traveler, a courtier. Though a Tuscan, he had not long before 
moved with the Court to Bome, where he had been hand and 
glove, it was said, with one of the royal family. Then there had 
been something, — nobody knew what, yet everybody seemed ac- 
quainted with the fact that something there had been, the 
intimacy had ended, and Count Mari sojourned once more in 
Florence, occupying the roomy first floor of the palace bequeathed 
to him by his father. 

^ All well at Fonte Buona ? '^ was his first question, before his 
hand released the priest's. 



14 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

« AU weU/' 

"Nothing amiss at Villa del Bruco?^' 

" Thank God, no/' 

" My mind is easier. The unexpected pleasure of your visit 
had suggested the fear of bad news from that quarter. The 
dampness year by year is dangerous to the Andrea del Castagno. 
I feared you might have come to tell me of fresh flakes scaling 
off — from the very nose of the Baptist, possibly, as a result of 
the earthquake the other night.*' 

"No, no. I made it my duty to ask for the keys, and in 
person went over the villa on the morning after. I examined 
the fresco, it had suffered no damage. The shock was so very 
slight. My first idea was merely that some thief had secreted 
himself under my bed. No, you may rest tranquil, all is in 
excellent condition, and the fresco, I take the occasion to tell 
you, is greatly admired by every art-lover with sufficient enthu- 
siasm to come so far for the sake of seeing it and my Mino. 
No, it is not that which has brought me. It is . . . 
{Swrehhe ...)'' 

"Pray make yourself comfortable! {S'accomodi!) " 

" Thanks. Thanks.'' 

The Count resumed his armchair by the writing-table, and 
leaned back, a good-humored listener, with nothing to do, and 
plenty of time to do it. He was never sorry of the diversion of 
a visit, — any diversion, any visit! The day in Florence had 
really a great many hours. 

The priest took a seat, without thinking, in his secret preoc- 
cupation, to remove it from the wall. In moments of emotion, 
it was his unconscious habit to place his hands palm to palm, as 
if in prayer. He mechanically so Joined them now. 

" It is not that work of art," he took up, " and yet it is in a 
sense a work of art. It is . . . {Si tratterebbe . . . ) " He 
paused, to adjust what he was about to say with this statement. 

" I understand," the Count readily helped him. " Something 
has been brought to your notice, you have discovered something, 
• — something really good and authentic, I hope." 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 15 

^'Beally good and certainly authentic, and it is as to a patron 
of art and letters, son of a long line of such patrons and pro- 
tectors of genius, that I have come to you.'' 

^I have great faith as you know, Don Iginio, in your taste 
and judgment, but in such matters it is well not to go too 
fast. What might this great discovery be?" 

^ Not an object, to tell you the truth, but a person, a lump 
of day, as it were, so promising, that an artist might make of 
it a piece of work to delight his generation. Education, educa^ 
tion is the needful thing.'' 

The Count's look lost in a measure the interest animating it 
at thought of some fair fragment unearthed in an orchard of 
Fiesole; it remained however politely attentive, and he nodded 
permission to proceed. 

^A little girl, eight or nine, whom I watched yesterday at 
play virith other little girls in the Oiardino dei Semplici, and 
was so deeply impressed by what I saw that I could hardly sleep 
at night, as if I had gone to the theater and witnessed too 
moving a drama. I should not however have thought of taking 
the liberty to bring the matter before you had there not been 
a thread — oh, no heavier than a spider-web, but yet a thread, 
connecting this child's affairs with you, even as it does, after a 
fashion, with me. She is not exactly a stranger to us." 

The Count raised his eyebrows and waited. 

^You have perhaps not forgotten a certain Antenore 
Bugiani?" 

The Count, after puckering his forehead to think, burst forth 
with some vivacity. ''You mean the Bugiani who was at one 
time my maestro di casaf I do indeed. I have reason to re- 
member him. The ffeUow was very much an ass, and something 
of a rogue to boot ! " 

Don Iginio raised his hands, and drew in his head between his 
shoidders, like a turtle, with vastly deprecating effect. " FoMt jr- 
noria is a thousand times right I But yet permit me to put 
forward the single excuse that can justly be made for him. He 
had not really the intention of injuring you. No, no, he had 



16 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

not. Let us say that he exaggerated. Consider, how new to 
him the elevation to such a post 1 He, the son of your father's 
fattore, to become steward over such a fine possesso as Villa del 
Bruco ! It went to his head, and in pure pride of life he pro- 
ceeded to make a profit in some proportion to the importance 
of his position and the greatness of the house he served. It 
was ill-judged, but it was human nature.^' 

"A thousand times obliged to you for your human nature! 
He robbed me unmercifully/' 

" Very well I Say that he made his perquisites altogether too 
liberal. You dismissed him. He wept over his disgrace, cried 
like a child. He has never prospered since, and the time might 
be thought to have come in which it were not altogether imdue 
to pass over that old offense.** 

" But how does the matter in hand regard him ? ** 

"The child in question is his first-born.** 

The Count stared. "And how, I pray, does it regard me? 
What is the little thread you speak of ? ** 

Again Don Iginio drew in his head, turtle-like, and raised 
his hands, smiling with the modesty proper in one pointing out 
the obvious. " Old servants I The child of old servants, them- 
selves children of other servants of your noble house I And this 
child bom while the couple was still in your employment. They 
were not turned out, if I remember rightly, till a year or so 
after. And from that hour he has never prospered, — not a 
bad fellow really, a man of heart, if you will allow me to say so, 
whose friend I have in spite of all remained. I say, he has never 
prospered. It is as if not only you had punished him, but 
given order that punishment should follow him on and on 
through life. And now this child who, had he remained your 
steward, might have hoped for such an education as would have 
brought to fruit the exceptional qualities and dispositions of 
which she is full, all her natural aptitudes neglected, will remain, 
in the metaphor I used before, the lump of clay untouched by 
the artist*s hand.** 

" And what are these wonderful qualities you detect in her? ** 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 17 

^Yon shall judge. I had not seen any of the Bugiani for 
8ome three years, when yesterday • . !^ 

The story followed, told with gvxio, with hnmor, with self- 
forgetfnl prolixity, and with, now and then, a pinch of snuff. 

The Count's look of fixed attention grew gradually glassy, 
and then glassier. When at the winding up the priest laughed, 
the Count, catching himself back, echoed him right pleasantly. 

** Yes, yes, certainly, it is all very interesting. But what is it 
you suggest with regard to myself? And will you pardon me 
for saying that an engagement shortens my leisure to a very few 
minutes more ? *' 

'^ Your indulgence ! I will not detain you. And pray pardon 
the intrusion. Seeing the time is short, let me be brief. What 
I am here to solicit is some better opportunity for this gifted 
child, is, vMomma, an education such as is received by the daugh- 
ters of more fortunate circumstances.'' 

The Count straightened up, and his voice came in a crow of 
surprise. " A bagatelle ! ** 

The priest screwed himself to look as much smaller as he 
could; he joined his hands high under his chin. '^ No, no, do 
not think I underrate the magnitude of the demand ! On the 
other hand, forgetting the sins of the father, remember the 
mother, that admirable Cesira, so willing and efficient always in 
her service. In one capacity after the other, how faithfully 
she served your interests and tiiose of your family I As caretaker 
first, when, a fresh young girl, she had the keys of the Villa 
and showed the Andrea del Castagno to visitors, always reliable, 
always well-mannered. Then when after coming personally into 
possession you preceded the family to direct repairs and changes, 
and that capable girl, aided by Battistina her aunt, kept house 
for you, did she see to your comfort with faithful prtmura or 
no ? She would go to market, with her big basket, and every fig, 
every cutlet, she would inspect lest it be not suitable for the 
signor cont^s table. There was one who could talk back to a 
dishonest vender and bring down his price! So that when the 
Countess arrives with family and household, struck immediately 



18 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

by Cesira's capabilities^ as well as eneonragedy I was told, by 
your personal recommendatioiiy she retains her as maid, and is so 
well satisfied that I verily believe should I take my request 
to her she would turn no deaf ear to it/' 

"Allow me! You are quite mistaken there. I have my 
reasons for saying so. My wife had had her fill of your Cesira 
before they parted. Her rise in the world turned the poor 
woman's head. I remember perfectly.'* 

'* The poor woman I The poor woman ! Never did you speak 
a truer word! Involved in her husband's disgrace as much as 
if the fault had equally been hers . . ." 

" I entirely believe it was.'' 

*'I will not dispute. Let us suppose it to have been so, — 
their dismissal broke her heart A few years more, and she 
reposes in the tomb ..." 

**She had had several other children before that, I heard. 
Of what did she actually die? " 

The priest gave a sorrowful shrug and said very simply, " Co8& 
di donna! One of those accidents that happen to women. 
To-day vigorous, blooming, brimming with life and containing 
the promise of life for another. ... A chance, a misstep, and 
to-morrow withered lie parent tree and little branch." 

*' Poveretta! A hard case, as you say, a very sorrowful case." 

There was a pause during which both men looked reflective 
and depressed, even vaguely guilty. 

*' It would be a mistake, however," the Count broke the silence, 
in a brisker voice, " to give her child an education beyond her 
station. And the other children, why do you not on the same 
grounds ask me to educate them all ? " 

He leaned back again, as if not unwilling to discuss the matter. 
His elbows rested on the arms of his chair, and the fingertips of 
one hand against those of the other. His long curving nails 
gleamed faultlessly clear and smooth. The priesf s hands, dis- 
joined for picturesque gesticulation, came together again in his 
version of the Count's attitude, and the difference in worldly 
plane between the two men stood admitted by the contrast in 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 19 

their fingernails, the poor little peasant priesf s being in humble 
monming, like his teeth, — for the sin of pride perhaps, in its 
modem form of wanting to know better than Nature. And 
other differences there were^ placing them in opposition as much 
ahnost as if they had been the cruel lordly beast, the lion, in 
conference with the honest common dog. In the one advantages 
of fortune, victories of accomplishment, added a fine still conceit 
to the calm and chronic pride of race, while in the other the 
consciousness as well of lowly estate as of the grievous frailty 
of all flesh induced the sweetest possible modesty. But beyond 
these points of difference there were similarities between tihem, 
too. The small man and the great were equally urbane. One 
had as much manner, and in their way as good manners as the 
other, persuasive, invincible, beautiful, bland, expansively cour- 
teous Italian manners. They were Greek meeting Oreek with 
regard to that. If anything, the priest on this occasion had 
the advantage, for xmder all his humility lay a sense of cartridges 
in his belt beneath the rusty black tunic, which strengthened a 
determination to hold out long and give up hard, and supplied 
his appeal as it were with a backbone. 

^^ No, no, no,'' he, with a look that deprecated the imputation 
of so much indiscretion, replied to the question why the Count 
should not be asked to befriend all the young BugianL ^* That, 
for one thing, would not be in reason. For another, it is only 
because this child, this little Camilla, is so different from the 
other children that I venture to ask it for her. One would not 
think her, I swear, of the same extraction, the same blood. All 
I ask is cultivation for the soil in which the good seed would be 
sure to prosper. And in part I do it also for that poor Cesira's 
sake, in tenderness for her memory. I have been the friend of 
the family for many years, she expressed to me the hopes she 
had of this first-bom more than of the others. I thought it a 
mother's partiality, but seeing the family again after several 
years there returned to my mind words of hers which I saw to 
be justified. It was, you must know, at Fonte Buona she died. 
She had come for a visit to her parents. She stood on a ladder 



20 THE TEtJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

tying muslin bags around the bunches of grapes on the garden 
wall^ to save them from the wasps. From the house^ they said 
afterwards, they conld hear her sing. She missed her footing. 
. . . When I arrived she was breathing her last, but she still 
found strength to say, 'I commend my poor children to your 
affection. Do what you can for Camilla, she is not like the rest.' 
And it is true, signor conte, you should see the girl. You 
would be struck, I believe, — if by nothing else, by her eyebrows, 
their quality and character, fine, black, arching, long-drawn 
... in brief, aristocratic.'* 

Mari's eyes, an indefinite color among the blue-gray-greens, 
and the priest's, black as a shoe-button, for the first time squarely 
and consciously met, one pair as inexpressive as the other was 
inscrutable, each side trying to decipher the other. . . . 

The Count rose, and the priest, obliged to rise also, fell to 
appealing with redoubled vigor. He flapped the joined hands 
for greater emphasis. " Sental Listen ! " he precipitately said. 
"Let us do this, shall we? You say nothing, promise nothing, 
do nothing, until you have seen with your own eyes. And I, as 
I have one day more in town, I to-morrow bring this little girl 
to the house here. Then you can judge. I have entire confi- 
dence that you will be convinced. . . . Simply to see her you 
surely will not refuse ! If when you have seen her you consider 
that I have misrepresented the matter, and think her unworthy 
of your protection, I shall not have another word to say, I 
solemnly promise, nay, swear. And do it the more freely that I 
am sure of my case I " He smiled with a fine show of assurance, 
while his eyes watchfully waited upon the Count's. "I have 
then your permission? " 

"Very well," said the Count. "Let us see this little 
prodigy." 

" Good. At what hour then may I . . . ? " 

" Let me see. Piliberti, my wife's cousin, lunches with me to- 
morrow. Bring her directly after the lunch hour, at one, or 
let us say half past." 

" A thousand thanks. And how < — as I should have inquired 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 21 

the first thing, but my mind was unduly absorbed . . . Pardon 
the remissness ! — how is the Countess Maria ? " 

^ As usual. She is never any better than at other times. An 
invalid always, and sees very few.*' 

"Will you offer my duty and sympathetic respeots? — And 
Master Enzo ? '' 

" In the military school at Home/' 

«AhI — And Miss Eezia?'* 

^At the Sacred Heart, in Bome, also.'' 

** Both quite well, I hope.'* 

'' Quite weU." 

" My distinguished greetings to them. We were dispiacentia" 
md, believe me, when it was known that you would not occupy 
the villa this summer. After so long an absence we had hoped 
that this year at least . . .'' 

"We preferred the baths on the children's account, and re- 
tamed early to town, not caring to remain after they left for 
schooL And so, to-morrow." 

" To-morrow." 

The Count, again premuroso, hastened before the priest to 
open the door. " One question, Don Iginio," he paused with his 
hand on the knob. ^' That Cesira of whom we have been speak- 
ing, were you her confessor only, or her confidant as well ? " 

The priest's sloe-black eyes again met the Count^s green-gray- 
blue orbs. It would have been impossible to look more utterly 
modest, meek and tractable than he did as he answered, ^* I was 
botL" 



CHAPTEE ni 

ON one of the wooden seats by the walls of the Fortezza, Don 
Iginio that evening had a talk with Antenore Bugiani. 
They had selected the public place as being more private, as 
well as airier and pleasanter, than the single available room in 
Antenore's dwelling. 

It was sweet there this still September da/s-end, when the 
hazy gold was not quite gone out of the sky, and in the freshness 
mysteriously distilled on them the polled acacias spaced along 
the walk shook out of their leafy mops good smells of green. 

The high slanting walls of the fort, which enclosed a city, 
with its movement and noise, let forth none of this, but stood 
silent and frowning. The ritirata had sounded, the broad- 
shouldered little soldiers in their dust-colored uniforms had 
marched in to gallant bugle music, sentries guarded the gate. 

This belt of unenclosed garden surrounding the fort being 
a thoroughfare, the sound of footsteps seldom entirely died 
there ; but it was traveled chiefly by citizens taking a passeggiata, 
and most of the crunching was leisurely, the voices were often 
the voices of children. Later, when night had fallen, a torch 
would flare here and there, illuminating a vender and his wares, 
a handcart with a pile of flat brittle waffles named brigidini, a 
stand with salted pumpkin seeds, rosemary buns, and dusty 
candies which, as some of us remember, left a raspberry stain on 
the tongue. 

Don Iginio and Antenore sat where the garden develops a 
little, and boasts a lake beset with flowerbeds, salvia and coleus 
and striped grass. 

"I saw Count Mari to-day." Thus simply did Don Iginio, 

22 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 23 

after a bit of talk on other matters, dispose of the difficulty of 
introducing his subject. 

Antenore gave a sort of moan and raised his hand in startled 
warding off. " Ah ! don^t speak of it ! *' 

" 8u ! 8u ! Via ! " the priest took to him his good-humoredly 
scolding voice. ^^ Should a thing which happened so long ago 
still affect you so much ? '* 

'' It 's like a wound that closes if I stop thinking about it, but 
let something occur to revive the past, and there it is bleeding 
as at first ! '* 

He spoke with genuine feeling. He was a man among the 
middle thirties, with a larger head and trunk than properly 
fitted his short and active arms and legs. A full beard failed to 
conceal the wide mouth so full of gesture when he talked. His 
eye had the primitive beauty of a horse's, soft and large and 
dark^ a woman's eye, too pretty for a man, though from it and 
his curly hair came his claim to be a 'belVuomo. His nostril too 
reminded one of a horse's, inflating and spreading in the smallest 
degree of excitement, which was, on and off^ all the time. A 
man^ the shrewd physiognomist would have judged, who might 
be seized with panic and shy; who, stabbed in his affection or 
kis pride, would weep ; in anger would be headlong; when he was 
merry or kind would easily overdo it ; at no time would be very 
reasonable or perspicacious. But nothing of this in heroic 
measure, for a lurking vulgar instinct for safety and profit pre- 
sided after all over his passions and whims ; and prudence, thrift, 
an eye for opportunity, were in his blood. A good thing for 
him, too. 

**That man was my ruin!" he broke out at the end of a 
pause during which his friend had, but for a sigh or two of 
qrmpathy, kept silence in order to let the reopened wound bleed 
a little for its relief. 

*' Come, Antenore, that is putting it a little strongly! ^ 

^ What else ? What has my life been since those days ? Have 
I ever had another such position? For he even refused me his 
recommendation. Down and down and down I have come. Do 



24 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

you know what I do to earn bread for my family? I address 
wrappers at a newspaper office. And when there is a suit for 
libel against my paper and we are sentenced^ I go to prison^ for 
one month, two months. And that is the most profitable part 
of my duties^ so that I am. delighted when my superiors insult 
a deputy. And when I think that I once drove in my hagherino, 
steward of Gasa Mari I . . . Ah, but it 's not alone the loss of 
position ! It is the woimd to my pride, my amor proprio. To 
be so treated, no explanations heard, no second chance given, 
after being a servant so faithful, so untiring. Bar priore, I did 
my work as never it was done before, and as never it has been 
done since. See how the property has run down since my dis- 
missal! I put passion into it, I would have died for that 
family. When I think of it, and of my reward, I could weep ! '* 
And he did weep, without shame, as was his habit when he 
spoke of that episode. 

Don Iginio, with occasional exhortations to patience, gave 
him time to calm down. **I have always thought the Count 
owed you something for what you suffered,^' he said, when 
with an effect of finality Antenore had resonantly blown his 
nose, " and that was one reason why I went to see him to-day.^ 

^* Went, did you say? You did not meet him then by chance 
on the street ?'' 

'*I went to his house. To tell you the whole thing, I saw 
the children yesterday, that put the idea into my head. It 
was time, I thought, he did something for you. All that other 
matter is eight years old now or more. And though I must 
say there was some reason on his side, still I think, too, that 
he was unduly severe. And I believed that after so long a 
time, his indignation spent, he would be willing to see the 
matter in a different light, be more just and make some repa- 
ration/' 

Antenore, who had literally grown pale, stared with dropped 
jaw. 

^ Now what is there, Antenore, to your mind, that he could 
do for you?'' 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 25 

'^Beinstate me!'' 

** No, no ! Se sensible ! That is ont of the question. That 
would be owning that he was in the wrong before^ which can- 
not be asked of him. Let ns be practicaL The thing which 
he conld do with dignity, and you with self-respect accept is, 
it seems to me, to educate one of your children. And that is 
what I asked him to do.'' 

*'To educate one of my . . .?" 

^^Yes. What is a man's cane and prop in old age? What 
does a poor man have to depend on? Can he save in these 
days? "So. His whole hope rests on his children. A child 
with an education is an investment." 

"But Olindo is not of an age . . ." 

"I am not thinking of Olindo. It is Camilla I am think- 
ing of." 

"Eh, a female! They marry and then . . ." 

" So does a male, marry I Camilla with an education might 
marry well, or she might obtain a position in some good house, 
as governess." 

"I do wish, rather, that having the opportunity you had 
said a good word for me and prevailed on him to take me 
back. Ton might have said to him, 'See here, signor 
conte . . .""' 

" And I should have obtained precisely nothing. Instead of 
which — ^" 

"Did he consent?" 

" Tfo. But he said I might bring the little girl to his house. 
And when he has seen her I will answer for him. How could 
he, having gone so far, afterwards deny povera gente like us? 
The simple fact of that consent shows a certain willingness on 
his part, and the inevitable hope it rouses in us to a mgnore 
constitutes an obligation." 

"All the same . . ." 

"Antenore, stop dreaming of the impossible. If the Count 
does this for us, he will be acting in a very handsome manner, 
and nothing more could be asked of him. Stop to think for 



26 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

a moment how he regards you and, whatever your excuse may be, 
has from his point of view every reason to regard you, and 
you will see positive magnanimity in this action of his, should 
he in truth perform it, and stop your ungrateful clamoring for 
still more/' 

" Sor priore, it is for my honor's sake more than anything 
else! I have my just and rightful pride. The reinstatement 
alone could satisfy that. The honor of my name is dear to 
me beyond all else. It has suffered martyrdom all these, years/' 

*' Let this then satisfy it. Will not everyone know that Count 
Mari shows you this piece of consideration?" 

^'Sor priore, in all that matter which involved us in dis- 
grace, true as that God is true, I suffered wrong. I will speak 
to you as I would in the confessional. My conscience was 
clean of all but a very little. A little I will own to, just the 
little bit that goes without saying and that custom sanctions. 
For the first time in my life the whole truth shall pass my lips. 
It was Cesira who urged me on. Cesira it was. Of the dead 
they say one must speak no evil, and God knows I wish to 
speak none of her, but the blame, in all conscience, was hers. 
I was afraid, I held back, but she pushed me and pushed me. 
Add so much to this figure, she prompted, add so much to that. 
On the hay for the horses, on the bread for the household, down 
to the sawdust for the sweeping. And you remember the woman 
she was, the spirit of her, and the tongue! It seemed to me 
sometimes that her daring must be a result of literal madness. 
But then I thought, *She knows these people better than you 
do, and acts as if certain it was safe.' Yet even so she amazed 
me sometimes, to the point that an evil thought, an evil sus- 
picion, would enter my head. Poor Cesira, I did her wrong. 
When Count Mari turned us out like a pair of lousy beggars, 
then I knew that in my heart I had done her wrong. Miseri- 
cordia! What an awakening! What a thunderbolt!" 

After a moment spent darkly considering it, he shivered dra- 
matically and, visibly bracing up, started in the subdued voice 
proper for dangerous gossip, a venomous-sounding whisper, to 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 27 

nnburden His heart of long-etored bitterness. ^'A hard man, 
the Count. A man without vitals. In spite of his elegant 
and chivalrons manner, cold at heart as a stone. And, be- 
tween ourselves, unable to command the affection even of his 
wife. Cesira, the one who told me, had abundant oppor- 
tunity to remark the little case she really made of him, aside 
from what she put on for the sake of appearances. She had 
not as much jealousy even as is only just decent in a wife. 
His conduct with others, she never deigned to notice it. She 
had washed her hands of him. Her children were all she 
cared for, her children and her Church.'^ 

"Yes, a good woman, a sincere Christian.'* 

" No, let me tell you, no,'* Antenore, greedy to exploit this 
opportunity of a good listener, went on pouring into that patient 
bottomless urn, the priestly ear, so used to the maunderings 
of poor souls, '^ no, let me tell you, that 's not the sort of wife 
I had. Dio ne guardi! . . . But then our marriage was not 
like so many marriages. Cesira really loved me. It was she 
in a manner, you know, who brought about the match. After 
she had taken the first step, I of course responded. But I 
had not before that noticed her much. I had been used to 
come and go at Fonte Buona ever since my father's time, so I 
had seen her now and then at her parents' osteria. And she 
had a taking person, — those black eyes, and, in those days, 
that neat waist ! Brisk as a little serpent I I had spoken with 
her, we had exchanged jests, but without thought on my part 
of anything more. After she went to Villa del Bruco, I was 
frequently there, it happened, the butler being a friend of 
mine. And once, when I was coming away late in the evening, 
there beside the cistern in the middle of the court, all alone, 
I find Cesira, and when I speak I discover that she is crying. 
One question leading to another, I divine by her replies and her 
reticences what it is she has in her heart. Upon that I catch 
fire too, naturally. I should show better judgment now, but 
at twenty-five ! The fiattery of such a thing, sor priore, lays a 
terrible compulsion on a man. A young and beautiful woman 



38 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

spoiling her eyes for you I Within the week we are betrothed, 
and there is congratulation from the padroni, — the Countess 
doted on Cesira, — and I am raised to the position of maestro 
di casa, while she is given a portion. At once we marry^ out 
of compliment to the Ooxmt who is leaving on a journey^ and 
we desire the wedding to be honored by his presence. At the 
coming of the first-bom, what attentions again ! Gifts of fascie, 
linen, baptismal confetti. And to think the same hand that 
caressed us thus should before the end of another year smack 
us on the cheek and send us to the devil! . . . Ah, blood of 
Christ . • .V 

'*Let be! Let be, my son! Why make yourself evil cheer? 
Say no more. I have heard it all before, many times. Let 
the past be dead and buried. Cesira is where she knows neither 
pain nor distress of mind.^' 

*'We will hope so,*' said Antenore prudently. "When she 
lived, I had no need to spend my breath in maledictions on the 
Coxmt. She did it for two. Sometimes I would reproach her, 
saying, ^Why, Cesira, why did you make yourself into my evil 
angel? Why would you not let me alone imtil you had pushed 
me over the precipice?' She would weep and admit that she 
had been too ambitious for me . . .'' 

When they rose and turned homeward, Antenore, wonderfully 
eased by the vent allowed his feelings, as well as refreshed by 
several hours of a congenial exercise, saw the future all in a 
different color. 

"This matter of his giving my Camilla a first-class educa- 
tion will do much toward making me forgive the Coimt,'' 
he said. 

The priest had to remind him that the matter was not yet 
altogether what could be called certain. 



CHAPTEE IV 

COUNT MABI and Marquis Filiberti still sat at table when 
the visitors were announced^ and so Don Iginio with his 
young charge was received informally in the dining-room. 
Chunky little priest and slender damsel stood for a moment side 
by side in the doorway . • . 

Then he led her in and presented her. And the Count who^ 
napkin in hand, had gallantly risen, presented the priest to his 
guest. And the Marquis rose and gallantly bowed to both. 
Camilla was left for a few seconds isolated, on exhibition, while 
the men, as they exchanged the first conmionplaces, all three 
with politely incurious and as if casual glances looked at her. 

Battistina had done her best, and Camilla had done her 
best. She stood, flowing hair aiV ingUse, in her Sunday frock, a 
durable gray, whose blank skirt and blank bodice joined at the 
waist by a simple seam. Below it Camilla's long white stock- 
ings guided the eye to her well-shined boots, of a kind then 
common — one never sees it any more, — they had elastic sides 
and strong tape loops to draw them on by. Camilla to-day 
wore a hat. Children of her class were not often seen in hats, 
but she had fought for it and conquered, and had on her head, 
secured by a strong elastic, a little white silk oval, treasure 
snatched from some trash-basket where a wasteful hand had 
deposited it after ripping oflf the trimming. Heaven knows 
what child's power of dream made it beautiful to Camilla. 

She stood, wonderful to relate, not according to wont keyed 

up and inspired by the life-enhancing sense of eyes upon her. 

So had her imagination been smitten that awe drove all else 

out of her head. She stood like a little stick. 

29 



30 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

A glass of wine had been poured for Don Iginio^ and he had 
taken a seat near the table. '' Rosolio for the yoimg lady!'' 
the Count had ordered^ whereupon^ a chair having been placed 
for her not far from his own, she had been given a plate with 
a tiny goblet of ruby cordial and sweet biscuits. 

So much of her mind must now be devoted to keeping the 
glass from sliding about on the plate that, particularly as no 
one for the present spoke to her, her terror abated, and she 
after a time took a nibl^le and a sip, a nibble, a sip, and, with- 
out quite boldness enough yet to go the length of twisting her 
head to right and left as she would have liked, let her wide 
bright eye go ranging a bit. 

The gentlemen — a contet a marcheset — were not talking 
about her, she ascertained. They were not in any way noticing' 
her, so she could notice them. She decided sJmost at once 
that she liked the Marquis the better of the two, for one reason 
because he was young and had a beautiful blond beard, also 
because he looked care-free and good-humored. They were dis- 
cussing the daily news, her friend the priore joining in fear- 
lessly. They bandied names she had never heard, Moltke, Mac- 
mahon . . . She gave a little inward jump of pleasure when 
finally mention was made of Pio N"ono. 

By and by, when she was no longer thinking of him at all, 
but of the various enchanting appointments on the table, the 
Count stretched a long arm, gently took her chin and turned 
it toward him. Her face became as congealing wax, her eyes 
fell, the blood crept to the roots of her hair. He went over 
her lingeringly, his eyes narrowed to examine the thin-skinned 
temples softly veined with blue. 

'' Sentiamo/ Let us hear now,^ he said, releasing her. 
*^ Come ! Say something to us. Talk a little.'* 

Her lips opened, as if to speak, — but it was the dumbness 
of the fish which had then and there smitten them. 

Wonderful and unexpected as Perseus descending out of the 
air, Piliberti came to the rescue. With a note of remonstrance 
in his rather flat, somewhat foolish voice, he said, ^*Well 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 31 

brought up children, you should remember. Count, do not speak 
unless to answer questions. But I am quite sure that this 
very intelligent young lady can tell us, for instance ... for 
instance . . . about Moses in the bulrushes, yes, or the sacri- 
fice of Isaac. Thaf s it. A long time has passed since we 
heard those stories. Give us that pleasure, signorina. Tell ub 
of the infant Moses, if you please, and the lovely princess 
going to her bath. How did it all come about? I will wager 
that you know.'* 

But it was too late. She had been flustered past hope, that 
Camilla, never shy before. 

^^ Come ! Come ! " said her good friend the priest, when it 
was plain there would be no result from the Marquis's astute 
device, ^* recite something for us, Camilla. She recites very 
well. Let us hear that beautiful piece of poetry you favored 
me with yesterday. Stand up, cMld, su, da braval and let 
these genflemen see how nicely you can do it.'' 

In mechanical obedience she slid from her chair, but there- 
upon stood stock still. The perturbed priest, with eager inten- 
tion of helpfulness, took her by the shoulders and moved her 
out on the open floor, then hopefully resumed his place among 
file audience. But there she remained, head drooping, body 
swaying like a little birch-tree, in an agony of abashment. 

There was silence while the audience waited. 

" Fanciulla, che fai tu su quella porta?'' the priest prompted, 
and after a while again, " Pandvlla, che fai tu. . . * 8u, 
Camilla! 8ul Via!'' 

But nothing happened. 

Another interval of discreet waiting, graciously granted to 
the little star. She could painfully feel the blood burning in 
her cheeks. 

Piliberti's voice broke the long-drawn silence, in an under- 
tone. '' Elle a de beaux sourcils!" And his eye solicited the 
Count's, to pass him a glance of intelligence. 

" Oui/' the Count said, in a like low aside, ** Mais (feet une 
petite cruchel" 



82 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

The priest looked interrogatively from one to the other. He 
understood a little French^ but not when it was pronounced like 
that. 

"Ha soggezione!*' he explained, in an undertone, too. 

Again it was Filiberti^s weak-minded discomfort in the pres- 
ence of discomfort which shortened the scene. 

"She is too modest,*' he said charmingly, "your praises, 
father, have robbed her of confidence. Besides, we are 
strangers. She will recite when she knows us better. Miss 
Camilla! . . .'* And as she did not look up, he called still 
more persuasively, "Miss Camilla!'* 

She stole a glance. Smiling he beckoned her to come nearer. 
Slowly and awkwardly she obeyed. With delicate touch he 
found her little pocket, — the pocket in those days was easily 
found, — and holding it open with three long fingers, after a 
look that asked his host's permission, shook into it all the 
bonbons contained in a little Capodimonte dish. 

Camilla returning home wore for the first hours the pallor 
and aloofness of those who have passed through experiences 
and arrived at dignities. With quiet grandeur she distributed 
among the others the sweets she had brought back from her 
visit to high places, reserving one only for herself, the smallest, 
just to taste, and getting greater gratification from the princely 
act of dispensing good things than from any vulgar indulgence 
of the palate. 

When Bianca had come racing home from school, she must 
instantly hear all about it. The sisters sat on the stone thres- 
hold of the kitchen, with their feet in the stone court. Camilla 
had resumed her everyday frock, but her hair was still holiday, 
and the genteel English fashion of drawing the sidelocks up 
on the crown of the head, where they were fastened with a 
ribbon, distinguished her as belonging to a different occasion 
from Bianca with her pig-tails. Bianca had set her share 
of the sweets, — a pink, a glazed green, and a brown one, each 
in its frilled paper cup, — in array on the floor beside her. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 88 

to count over and contemplate before giving herself the joy 
which would destroy a hardly less dear delight. She tonched 
them f ondlingly with a soiled little hand^ now and then lifting 
one to smell. 

" So we wenf Camilla took np where the story had broken 
off for Bianca^ ^Annt Battistina was left waiting ontside in 
the antechamber, while a man who was dressed like a signore, 
but who was not one, we afterwards learned, invited us to 
follow him. He opened a door, and there we stood in a room 
such as you have never seen! The curtains at the windows 
were red silk looped back with ropes of silk and gold, and 
tassels, so big . . /^ She gave their incredible dimensions 
with her hands. '^ And the chairs had seats of silk and arms of 
gold. Before the middle window stood a cage, on feet, full 
of birds, all colors, that picked seeds and twittered. I counted 
fifteen of them, sometimes sixteen. And at one side a dresser 
with silver dishes and things. Then at the table sat a Count 
and a Marquis who had not finished their digvuni, so we saw 
them eat. They were having grapes and cheese and walnuts. 
And when they had finished the man who was not a signore 
but a servant placed before each a crystal bowl and cup, and 
they dipped their fingers and took water in their mouths and 
did like this • . ." She gravely imitated the gentlemen mak- 
ing such faces as are inseparable from the use of the rinc&- 
boiiche, 

*^ Oh, what were they like, and what did they have on, the 
Count and the Marquis? Tell me! Baccontal** Bianca 
^gg^> wriggling on her seat with eagerness. 

" I was a little surprised. They looked like other signori in 
the Cascine on Sunday. The Count is not hello, I consider, 
though he has a very fine mustache — *^ She held her hands 
a foot apart at the sides of her face, and indicated its sweep. 
She threw back her head, as if to balance the heavy ornament, 
half closed her eyes, and looked as far as possible like the 
Count. '* His hands have a delicious smell, I smelled it when 
he touched my chin, and he wears a ring with a little head on it 



34 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

and precious stones all rounds besides other rings on the other 
hand. But the Marquis I found more simpatico. He is much 
younger, with a frizzled gold beard, and even when he is not 
smiling looks as if he could never be cross . . /^ To illustrate, 
she put on Filiberti's characteristic innocuous expression. ^* It 
was he who gave me the dolci in my pocket. I had rosolio 
besides in a little glass like a doll's, and I had biscuits, of 
which I left some on the plate.'* 

"And did you make a good impression?" 

" I made a very good impression. The Count took my face 
in his hand the better to see me, and afterwards the Marquis 
and he spoke to each other about me in French." 

" Oh, what did they say? " Bianca asked hopefully, in spite of 
knowing that Camilla understood no French. 

"The Marquis said, *I have seldom seen a more pleasing 
child ! ' And the Count said, ^ I agree with you, but we must 
not let her know.'" 

"Oh, and then, Camilla? And then? Bacconta! Rao 
conta!" 

" They made me talk, and I told them Moses in the bulrushes, 
and the sacrifice of Isaac, likewise the sacrifice of Cain and 
Abel, — and what I do, I told them, and where I go to school, 
and what I learn, and what things I like . . ." 

"Oh, I should have been so afraid. And you were not 
afraid?" 

"What was there to fear? They were on the contrary the 
most agreeable gentlemen I have ever known. Then the sor 
priore asked me, for the pleasure of the company, to recite 
some little thing." 

"Oh! ... And did you, Camilla?" 

" I recited, * FancwMd, che fai tu su quella porta f* 

"Oh! . . . And did you do yourself honor? 

"I did myself great honor.' 



CHAPTEB V 

WE will think of itl*' the Ooxmt had said at parting, 
and with that poor satisfaction Don Iginio must 
return to his village in a fold of the hills behind Fiesole. 

Antenore for a day or two went about with the face of one 
who has had secret good news, but at the end of a week, noth- 
ing new occurring, his brow clouded over, aad later, as still 
nothing happened, his eyes avoided Camilla, or else rested on 
her with what might easily have been taken for smoldering ire. 
At dinner he growled misanthropic generalities. He was over- 
heard calling Poverty a pig. 

Camilla knew too little to wonder much. She had been in- 
vited by the f amil/s friend to make a call at a great house, a 
treat not recognized as essentially different from being taken 
to the menagerie. She was beginning to forget, when one 
afternoon a lady came, the Signora Orlandi, a plump, pleasant, 
matronly body, still young, dressed in silk, unprecedentedly 
familiar from the first instant towards all; a bustling white 
hen sort of person, whom Battistina said afterwards she re- 
membered perfectly. It was la Prevd, a Swi^, who had been 
governess at Villa del Bruco when Enzo and Bezia Mari were 
little, and had subsequently married a certain Orlandi, in 
government employ. She had been very different in the old 
days, Battistina said, when, bony aad strict, she walked out 
with the Mari children, in her bleak neat dress, with her flat 
hair collected in a net. Matrimony, children of her own, had 
developed her. 

She was commissioned by Count Mari to do whatever was 
necessary for this young lady, she told them, lajdng her hand 

35 



36 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

on the arm of the elder, this young lady who was to be entered 
as an interna at Institut Heller. And she praised the Institute 
and the institvirice. Mademoiselle Sophie Heller, and she praised 
Count Marl and all his family, and she praised his kind in- 
tentions toward this little girl, who might call herself truly 
fortunate. 

For an hour or more she sat in the poorly lighted living- 
room; which was also the dining-room and kitchen, and throned 
amid rustling ruffles talked to three people who hardly breathed 
a word. There was an effect of conversation all the same, for 
to the stream of questions which she asked she amiably furnished 
the answers herself, on approval. 

She took from her pocket a prospectus of Institut Heller, 
and read out the items required with every scholar. Six sheets, 
six towels, six table napkins, a knife, a fork, a spoon, — down 
to an impermeable and an umbrella. 

Twelve pockethandkerchiefs marked with her name, three 
dresses, two hats, two pairs of boots and a pair of slippers for 
the bedroom . . . Camilla heard with a strange sensation about 
her heart, as if she had been told in a dream that she was going 
on a journey in a balloon. At the visitor's request the Sun- 
day frock was produced. The Orlandi spread it over her knees, 
held it up before her, shook and turned it about, ending with 
a grimace expressive of doubt. Bianca's eyes opened wider at 
the thought of a school so magnificent that Camilla's best 
would not even do for common. 

Bianca went to the Sisters alone next day, while Camilla 
was taken to be measured for clothes, to try on boots and hats, 
to have materials held against her complexion. 

With loquacious motherliness the former sharp-chinned Ma* 
thilde Prevost, double-chinned now and parent of three, em-r 
ployed herself to do for the prot6g6e of the Mari in such a 
manner as to show her undiminished allegiance to the noble 
house. '*! will do for her as for one of my own,'* she had 
promised. Camilla accordingly was turned out looking like a 
comfortable little Orlandi, in a red plaid with black velvet trim- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 37 

mings^ and a hat cUla Rabagas, her heart glowing with the knowl- 
edge of a best of blue cashmere with mother of pearl buttons. 

As children do^ she after the first took her rise in fortune as 
natural. The relish of it however lasted long^ — the pride be- 
fore Battistina who so often had humbled her; the pride be- 
fore her father^ that irritating brontolone, who must continue, 
he, to wear his grubby old clothes; the pride before the other 
children. 

There was just one person with reference to whom she felt 
no elation in the sense of new possessions and honors, but rather 
a dull vague pain, which she did her best, but vainly, to forget. 
That was Bianca. 

It was impossible, of course^ that such a thing as had hap- 
pened to her should have happened to Bianca. But she did wish 
it might! Almost wished that the same prize had fallen to 
both. It would have taken away the solitary grandeur of her 
position in the family, but it would have been sweet to have 
along with her in the new adventure that merry Bianca^ whose 
heart-whole sisterliness as a matter of course prevented the least 
twmge in her of evil envy. Certainly when she came home on 
Sundays she would give Bianca all the benefit she could, by tell- 
ing her about everything. 

She was taken to Institut Heller by Signora Orlandi, in a 
fiacre, on whose box stood the proud new trunk. 

The Signora Orlandi and Mademoiselle Heller had already 
conferred, but they said a good deal of it over again, while 
Camilla stood studying her new directress. She did not like 
her, or expect to like her, because she was Tedeaoaj but the child 
was naturally anxious to understand the person in authority 
over her. The first thing to notice about Miss Heller was 
that she had eyes which saw through you and wished you to 
know it, to be certain you could do nothing that would escape 
them. Some instinct spoke up in Camilla, ^' But I, if I choose, 
can do things which you will never find out!'* 

When, however. Miss Heller spoke to her with a smile that 
was all the more winning for the severity of the eyes, and treated 



38 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

her like a little person worthy ttat one should try to make a 
pleasant impression, she began to believe one might tolerate 
her. More and more she thought this when Mademoiselle 
genially laid an arm across her shoulders to guide her into the 
schoolroom, where she must make acquaintance with her new 
companions. 

It was late afternoon and the scholars, just back from their 
walk, were waiting for dinner to be announced. A dozen figures 
arose like sheeted ghosts at Mademoiselle's entrance, girls in 
great white aprons that fell straight from the shoulders to the 
hem of the dress. 

Camilla was presented, and a moment later left among a 
group of girls all taking cognizance of her with their eyes. 
The impression of a recent scene was still fresh on Camilla's 
nerves, when she had stood so stupidly agape before strangers. 
She braced herself and looked unconcerned. 

"Have you been to school before?'' the interrogatory began. 

"KTo. I learned at home. I had a governess. What are 
those heads aU round the room?" 

" They are the emperors, the twelve CsBsars. Do you want to 
look at them? Have you had Eoman history?" 

" Yes. Also the catechism. Is there a garden ? " 

"A beautiful big garden. Come and look through the glass 
door. N"o, it is too dark already. Hold your hands against the 
pane like this. Can you see the white railing of the fountain? 
You can have pots of flowers of your own. The gardener sells 
them to us. Have you ever made a collection of pressed 
pansies?" 

" N"o. I have a collection of the pictures on match-boxes. 
I have more than a thousand." 

"Have you brought it?" 

"I made a present of it before coming here. You are not 
all Italians, it seems to me." 

" No, indeed. There are, of Italians, us three Centurini, the 
Borgarello, the Bo, and the Zucchi. Sacha Bistrow there is a 
Russian, Silvia Samana is from Egypt, and that one and that 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 39 

one and that one are Americans. They have only come this 
term and speak but a few words. After dinner we shall have 
a rehearsal. Did you ever do comedy?'' 

"A>few times.'' 

^'We are rehearsing for a serata Mademoiselle is giving, a 
representation followed by a ball. The older girls are to do Die 
Crouvemante. I am going to play a piece for two pianos and 
eight hands. Do you play?" 

Camilla hesitated a moment^ hesitated hard. She spoke with 
hearty reluctance. " No, I prefer the harp. I suppose I shall 
have to learn the piano, though, now that I am here." 

"Do you know our system of marking? If you do excel- 
lently well you obtain a ten. If not quite so well, then a nine. 
If only well, an eight. If only just well enough, seven. A 
six is middling. A five is already a shame. Of the rest I need 
say nothing. Down to zero. If you merit a zero there is — 
Here comes Isolina, the woman, to say the soup is on the table. 
Come." 

A few days, and Camilla had got her bearings. Eccentrically, 
instead of flocking with her compatriots, she elected as her 
especial comrade one of the Americans, Bianca's age, a very 
uninformed little person, with the eyes of an anxious puppy. 
The fact that if they would understand each other they must 
talk by signs, instead of discouraging friendship, made all so 
simple and safe. Camilla had not enjoyed her own people 
since the hour when one of them, the Genoese Borgarello, had 
repeated after her, over and over, laughing, a sentence contain- 
ing a great many C's, which Camilla after the custom of the 
good Florentine popolo converted into aspirates. 

She was appointed her class, her desk, her bed, her place at 
table. She discovered her favorites among the teachers, her af- 
finities among the extemes. She found her level, but she in a 
fashion only found herself a year or two later. 

This was the manner of it. Upon a day of fine humor, the 
Italian professor, who was neither old nor ugly, instead of 



40 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

setting the quantity of Oerasalemme Deltberata to be learned by 
heart, said to the young ladies, ^^ Let each learn as many stanzas 
as she will, and we shall see who learns most!'' For three 
days the girls were perpetually handing their Fomaeiari to a 
companion, begging to be heard, till the very walls must have 
been sick of " Non si destd finchi garrir gli cmgelU . • /' 

On the day of the contest, when one girl after the other 
had recited a stanza until all the class, with one exception, 
had drained the contents of memory, the exception had kept 
on and on, standing long after the others had subsided, sweep- 
ing their ranks with a fine green eye full of the light of 
triumph. 

For her exceptional diligence she had been praised, the little 
Bugiani, and when dessert was dispensed she had in the sight 
of all received the recompense of a double portion, a large 
candied green almond as well as a small candied pink pear, each 
enriched with the tuft of floss and tinsel whidi made it kin 
to a jeweled decoration. 

The little Bugiani had come into the knowledge then and 
there that such triumphs were what she was bom for. The 
tiger^s first taste of blood had instructed her as to what flavor 
she must all her life prefer. She had moved among impressed 
and half -jealous companions with a new air, the air which later 
became fairly habitual. Yes, that was her vocation, to surpass 
them all. If she could not be prettier, taller, stronger, better 
dressed than the rest, — if she could not even be undisputed 
leader in the games here as in the Garden of Simples, one avenue 
of glory was still open to her. And how much juicier, meatier, 
after all, the prize of this victory 1 How much better than 
plain populariiy among the girls, to be commended by the big 
people, held up for all to see. It was not such an arduous 
task either to deserve that sort of prize, for with the incentive 
of rivalry and the prospect of praise she could summon to 
the task a quickness, a force, a zeal, such as is called forth in 
children usually only by emulation in their own particular 
games. This was her game, you see. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 41 

Progress was an uneven affair for a year or two. One day a 
scratchy page full of blots and blurs and mistakes. Another 
day a beautiful clear page^ from which every blot had been 
neatly licked while fresh, fair even lines of model script, the 
most select sentiments academically expressed, — a composition 
to which the just teacher afSzed an unhesitating ten. 

Practice making perfect, Camilla^s monthly certificate finally 
bristled with tens. And when the scholar at the blackboard 
got badly embroiled, Camilla would be asked to come and rectify 
the mistakes and work out the quesito before the whole class. 
She had a good head for figures. That was a thing she loved, 
to do short division, fractions, anything, in sight of all, on the 
big blackboard, with fiying chalk! 

She might have become the model girl outright, had it only 
depended on getting tens for studies. But there was, in the 
list of things which one was marked for, a tiresome particular, 
considered almost more important than any other. Conduct, 
and in this Camilla seldom rose high. For there was one thing 
she could not do, and that was resist the impulse to talk back 
when found fault with. She did not often do it aloud, but 
m a mutter mostly, with eloquent shrugs, which performance 
was called impertinent. She had tempers, too. And, upon 
occasions, irrepressible spirits made her noisy and mutinous. 
Then, there would be passionate quarrels with other girls, the 
blame of which, somehow, when the loud voices had attracted 
attention, was generally laid to her. 

With the coming of her wisdom teeth, however, she gained 
control over her tongue, and could suffer criticism in silence, 
if even a pregnant silence. She clothed herself more and more 
in such graces as self-restraint i^d patience, even as with the 
passing of years and Bezia Mari becoming a young lady she 
went dressed, imder the uniform of her great white apron, in 
finer and finer raiment. (One year Bezia wore mourning, which 
forced upon Camilla in time the necessity of telling those who 
asked why she went in black that she had lost her dear grand- 
mother.) 



42 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

The intrepid and boastful winner of tens was naturally not 
a favorite among the girls. She had her little circle, though, 
friends and allies who found in her such a good one to include 
in small plots and conspiracies. No one like Camilla to do a 
surreptitious act undetected. She could smuggle, she could 
pass a note along while she was answering questions in medieval 
history. She could appear to do one thing and be doing a 
different one, with the teacher looking squarely at her. She 
could seem to eat her dinner, when she was transferring it to 
her lap, to be used later in some play that had been planned. 
She could look as if embroidering, when she was reading a for- 
bidden romance. At a pinch, when she had not found time to 
learn it, she could read oflf her lesson. Unless there were 
treachery in the camp, she was hardly ever found out, the very 
reason no doubt why she was always suspected. 

Mademoiselle, who sometimes prowled at night in felt slippers, 
entering the room from which disorderly noises had seemed to 
proceed, would find aJl fast asleep. But not one of the faces 
looked steeped in slumber so sweet and deep as Camilla's. She 
would wake with a start when the downpour of reproof began, 
wake like the Sleeping Beauty drawn from a hundred-year 
dream! . . . Of these accomplishments she was proud, as Greeks 
and Spartans were proud of their dexterity, courage, resource- 
fulness. 

The whole school gradually came to know that Count Mari 
was her guardian, and that the Signora Orlandi who came to 
see her, who attended to her crumbs of pocket-money, was his 
prophet. But only a few knew, and these had been sworn 
with every ceremony which makes an oath sacred not to divulge 
the secret, that Camilla was in reality the child of persecuted 
and exiled kings, whose names and the situation of their king- 
dom could never be revealed. Her mother dying at her birth, 
she had remained among the family with whom the noble pair 
had dwelt in humble and safe hiding, and for political rea- 
sons she passed for their daughter. Her father had confided 
the care of her future to Count Mari, and gone away to re- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 43 

conquer his kingdom. The stout woman, the Battistina, who 
came to take her home Sundays, had been her bdlia. Of her 
father she had heard no more, but lived hoping for his return in 
splendor and glory. 

It is difQcult to say how much of this was really believed, 
for children have a baffling way of believing and at the same 
time not believing a thing. But some degree of prestige un- 
doubtedly did accrue to Camilla among her particular set from 
the idea of her being secretly a princess, and she could lean 
with a pensive air over the railing of the fountain at twilight, 
conscious that certain of the white aprons supposed her to be 
meditating upon the far-away glories of her lost kingdom. 

She never saw Count Mari or had direct word from him, 
but semi-annually, for New Year and his onomastic, some 
one saw to it that she wrote him a beautiful letter. This was 
composed with great care in French, and copied fair on a sheet 
of pale rose paper with a little picture in the upper left comer. 
In it she told her benefactor how much she prized all he did 
for her, and promised that her endeavor should ever be to 
utilize her opportunities, that he might find satisfaction in her, 
and she might afford consolation to the kind teachers who de- 
voted so much tender care to the forming of her young heart 
and intelligence. She hoped Ood would grant him a thousand 
years of health and prosperity. To this end she would diligently 
invoke Him. This theme she worked up more elaborately as 
she from year to year became pliis forte en composition, — like 
a musical genius doing skilled variations. 

Camilla did not in afterlife remember her schooldays with 
much sentiment, though she too said upon occasion, ^ Ah, yes, 
one's schooldays are the happiest in life I '' But a rather special 
chance once came of talking about the Institut, and at the in- 
terest she saw her narrative awakening she realized the old days 
as something, to the mind of a foreigner at least, amusing and 
picturesque. 

It was in a German city, winter, and the sun never shone, and 
it rained every day. The lady with whom Camilla's lot was 



U THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

cast having after a severe bout with rheumatism entered con- 
valescence^ needed that one should cheer her^ and Camilla 
chanced upon the subject of her schooldays. After that^ she 
was often bidden, " Talk to me about Miss Heller's, my dear I '' 
Catching the other's outlook, she would enlarge upon the great 
school-room, the noble sola, with the medallions of the Soman 
emperors, white marble on gray, set in the walls. And the 
spacious chambers with stucco flowers begarlanding the panels 
of tender blue or pink or green, the imcarpeted floors em- 
bellished with spatter-work, or painted to resemble marble. And 
the fashion of keeping the dormitory windows open part of the 
day, and at sunset closing all, — persiane first, then the glass 
frames, then the imposte, which were secured with strong iron 
bars. And the charming garden, with urns of cactus crown- 
ing the street-wall, the fountain where threei little willowsi 
wept over the gold-fish, the graveled paths and box-edged 
flower-beds, the giant terra-cotta vases holding lemon and 
orange trees, the pergola overrun in spring with Banksea 
roses, behung with Salamanna grapes in autimm • . . 

About the remedies they were given in illness, she told, see- 
ing it was thought amusing, the Milan flies, the tar-water, the 
cassia; the dreadful, dreadful oil, sandwiched between a slice 
of lemon and a swallow of black coflfee. And how the whole 
intemat was vaccinated from one poor little howling baby. 
And how one's chilblains began to bum toward evening, — one 
girl had a chilblain on her nose. 

Camilla found that she need not color her reminiscences to 
make them entertaining. She told of the map of Europe in 
the school-room, so large it nearly reached the floor, and 
when the teacher left the room the thing to do was to jump 
out of your seat and see how far north you could kick the toe 
of your boot. 

She told of the polenta served once a week, the polenta that 
few liked after the anchovy sauce had given out, and there 
was never sauce enough for the amount of polenta. But those 
girls who left food on their plates were questioned as to the 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 46 

state of their health. So they sometimes carried it away from 
the table in their poekethandkerehief s. Once there was a great 
Battle of Polenta^ when the yellow staff was hurled at heads 
and with Bacchanalian recklessness sent smash against the 
wall. 

And she told of the plays of Shakespere, Julius CsBsar and 
King Lear and Macbeth^ which she and other little learners of 
twelve and thirteen had done into French^ also into Italian, for 
the mistress of English. The invalid asked eagerly whether 
she had saved any of the copybooks containing these exercises^ 
and been sorely disappointed to find that she might never 
hope to see those gems. 

About Mademoiselle and the teachers and the girls and the 
walks and the ways, which had seemed to herself little worthy 
of remark, Camilla found there were inexhaustible things by 
which to interest the person from the New World. And there 
in the dark, monotonous, and rainy German city where they 
were detained by the slow convalescence, it tmdeniably all looked 
rather luminous, warm-colored and diverting . . . Camilla 
preened herself with the sense of a certain distinction, from 
having gone to bed by the light of a lucema not very different 
probably from what the Etruscans used, and having played 
riug-^rrosy to the classic '' Novs n'irons plus au bote/' 



CHAPTEE VI 

CAMILLA at sixteen might have left school a finished young 
lady. But Count Mari had set no limit to the time which 
might he spent cultivating her. Aside from paying the bills 
forwarded to him^ he showed no concern in the matter. So 
Mademoiselle Heller and Signora Orlandi, who in the seven years 
had become excellent friends^ conferred upon the advisability of 
keeping right on. In the additional year, it was decided, 
Camilla besides perfecting herself in all her attainments shoidd 
acquire Spanish and singing and painting on porcelain. 

The summer after she was sixteen she spent at home, as in« 
deed she had spent most of her summers. One year, because she 
had looked sickly, Signora Orlandi had taken her for a few 
weeks with her own big family in villeggiatura at Bovezzano. 
And one year she had gone to Fonte Buona to visit her grand- 
father, master of the osteria whose tables and chairs spilled out 
into the village piazza. Across the piazza stood Don Iginio^s 
church, with the fine Mino da Piesole. The road that from the 
end of the square mounted the hill led to the Mari estate and 
Villa del Bruco. 

Camilla was permitted one day to take the keys which from 
of old in the master's absence had been in the custody of her 
grandfather, coachman in youth to the old Count. She had 
had a long afternoon in which to explore and examine all, 
from the ancient stone shield over the gate, with its grub 
(hruco) in one quarter, and in another its moth, to the walk 
around the turret whence men-at-arms long ago had spied the 

46 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 47 

eDemy miles away. Dnrmg her round of the house the 
thought of her mother had persistently recurred, Cesira who 
nsed to show the Andrea del Castagno in the chapel, then with 
Battistina had the management of the whole establishment for 
a while, and finally rose to be Countess Maria's personal at- 
tendant. Battistina never had anything to tell. She might 
as well never have had an adventure in her life. One solitary 
story had she ever known to tell the children: it ended with 
the Christian lover bringing the infidel pirate to justice before 
the Doge. For Battistina was not really one of the family. 
The grandfather's youngest brother, Beppe, a seaman, coming 
to port in Venice, had married there. When he was drowned, 
his Venetian, having no kindred of her own, had come to live 
with his. She had been beautiful in her youth. 

But Battistina either could not or would not tell of the days 
when she was cook at Villa del Bruco. No information worth 
the mention could be squeezed out of her with regard to all 
the brilliant company. Count, Countess, contino, contessina, and 
their distinguished visitors. Camilla went from room to room, 
gazing, prying, snufiSng, seeking some trace of them all. . . . 

In Don Iginio she found an interested and paternal friend. 
Obsequious as to a grown lady, he did the honors of his pres- 
bytery. He showed her the Mino, also the half-obliterated 
fresco from which the church received its name, a representa- 
tion of the Saviour when he says to the passers, ** I will give 
you to drink the water of life.'* So they named him the Good 
Fountain, and the church and village after him. 

Don Iginio came at evening to the osteria for a cup of coffee 
in the back room with the grandfather, while Qigi, Cesira*s 
youngest brother, looked after the customers. Camilla, at their 
invitation, sat with them, and in her superior Italian, never 
vulgarized by the suspicion of an aspirate, told them what she 
had been learning at school. 

She became sixteen in April, and the summer after she was 
spending at home, as we have said, in the hot city, to which 
she was perfectly used. The family had moved to quarters a 



48 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

little more commodious, for Antenore had better wages. He 
was something at the railway station, something which entitled 
him to a line of gold on his cap, a thing he had always fancied. 
He was as usual variable in his moods, but in the main kindly, — 
a characteristic of his to be more cheerful and accommodating 
with outsiders than among his family. But this was a good 
period with him. From time to time on a Sunday night he 
took them all to hear Stenterello, or some high-class comedy at 
the Arena. No one so well as Antenore knew the exigencies 
of a part. When he was the good father he joked with his 
children and at the theater treated them to a squirt of fumetto, 
which is anise, in the glasses of water passed between the acts. 

He had made up his mind that Olindo, openly his favorite, 
should become as elegant a calligrapher as he, and his spare 
moments were spent teaching him. Ronde, hatarde, gothiqtie, 
of all those valuable methods must Olindo become a master. 
The lesson never ended but the boy, who had Httle talent and 
no application, was one sop of ink and tears, and Antenore in 
pure heat of fatherly love was forced to smack his head. 
Olindo had still the nostrils that pointed straight ahead. He 
had his father's soft dark eyes, in a much whiter face ; he both 
laughed and cried too easily. The sight of him howling and 
nursing the side of his face that had caught the scapaccione 
was so common of an evening that the family had become cal- 
lous to it. 

Bianca had for two years already been at work. In a little 
shop on Porta Bossa she made straw-braid into hats, with 
other gossiping little women who ate their simple lunch out of 
a piece of newspaper. At all odd moments she braided straw, 
her fingers could do it unwatched, rapid and precise as a ma- 
chine. There trotted after her, inseparably, a yellow Pom- 
eranian, Pallina, cheerful and common as she. 

The new quarters, in a wide, pleasant street, had a hand- 
some entrance. The main door, open all day, let you under a 
high arched way. The door to the ground-floor gave on to 
this, and the staircase climbed from it to the upper stories. 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 49 

This passage ended in a court with a plot of earth and an 
oleander or two; on to the court opened the modest quarters of 
the Biigianiy who in consideration of certain favors performed 
certain duties. 

From all such Camilla was exempt. Antenore never sug- 
gested that she should work through the summer like Bianca, 
at straw-braiding or some such thing. It went against the 
grain, but what would you? Being reserved for a different 
destiny^ she must not be creating for herself a past she could 
blush for, nor yet hardening her hands with labor. So she 
never answered the night-ring at the big front door, never 
touched the huge pump-handle in the court, by which this 
house boasting every modem convenience was supplied with 
water in all its kitchens. 

Every morning at nine she appeared in the portone dressed 
for the street, a picture of the well-bom, well-bred young lady 
who never steps out unescorted. But where was her maid, 
where her duenna? About this matter there was simply noth- 
mg to be done. A bitter necessity to Antenore, that his young 
daughters should run about Florence unattended, part of the 
hardship that drew from him so often the remark that Poverty 
is a pig. He did what he could to make up for the want of 
prot^tion. It was blood-curdling, often, what he promised 
those girls, should their virtue suffer damage. He prized his 
honor, the good name of his house was dearer to him than life. 
Let the creatures of his blood walk straight, or guail ... At 
the best, the convent, at the worst, slaughter 1 Bianca would 
shake in her shoes. Camilla's lip would silently curl, for she 
detected the weakness of his position. He was trying to 
frighten them exactly because it was all that he could do. 

Had he, however, been able to keep a constant eye, on her, 
he would have seen nothing to blame. She went quietly and 
swiftly, looking neither to right nor left; her well-brought-up 
eyes slid away from those of Man, appearing to prefer the 
paving-stones. She conducted herself like the young ladies of 
good family among whom she had lived; their traditions had 



60 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

perfectly become hers; whether escorted or not, she was not to 
be taken for any but one of them. 

Down the long street she walked to Institut Heller, which 
had moved from the outskirts to the center of the city, aban- 
doning the outlook on the big enclosed garden for a wide, 
sunny piazza with a marble-faced old church. Camilla went 
there to practise. As she had no piano at home, it had been 
arranged that she should continue during vacation to use the 
Pleyel upright in the school music-room, and incidentally re- 
direct Miss Heller's mail. The woman left as caretaker could 
neither write nor read. 

So at nine daily Camilla would set forth, in a pale yellow 
batiste and a black hat with plume, carrying gloves and a 
parasol. . . . 

Her charming eyebrows were obscured by the " fringe *' which 
had come into fashion; a thick braid hung down her neck, 
where it was turned back and fastened with a velvet bow. She 
was not yet very pretty. The green sepals wrapped the folded 
rose-leaves rather straightly, the future rose hardly yet knew 
itself to be a rose. Antenore had no such great need to feel 
uneasiness at the thought of bees and butterflies. 

Her little head was full of the vague dreams of sixteen, by 
which we do not mean the dreams of a New England maiden 
at sixteen. Camilla's grandmother had been married at that age. 
One of her schoolmates, fifteen, had left school to become 
aflSanced. The Veronese Juliet, it will be remembered, was 
fourteen. Though Camilla fulfilled the European ideal of a 
jeune fille, imstained by so much as an unauthorized breath, 
and had the pretty virginal air of such, she may be described, 
rather than as a stick of green wood, as a little bonfire in 
preparation, dry brush and resinous pine all duly laid and for 
the present cold, but ready to sparkle and flame when the Torch 
should come. 

Unconscious of this, she could still think of forty things be- 
sides love. Her chief sentiment in reaching the freedom of 
the streets was that it would be pleasant to spend several hours 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 61 

away from home, to have a series of cool, empty, palatial rooms 
all to herself, — to practise, yes, but also to read, and to look 
out of the window. That was her chief sentiment on the fifth 
of July. By the fifteenth. . . . But it cannot be said she ever 
honestly regretted the relative simplicity which she lost that 
summer. 

With all her air of minding her own distinguished affairs, 
she yet saw everything. She knew by sight the tenants of the 
house, of course, for which the babbo and Olindo, or Battistina 
and Bianca, combining forces, agitated the stiff pump-handle. 
She was familiar with the faces she passed daily on her way. 
She therefore naturally remarked, the second time he appeared 
there, a youth, idle slender damerino, who seemed waiting for 
something, on the opposite side of the street. The third time 
she saw him, she wondered whom he was there for. The 
breath-catching possibility striking her that he waited to see 
her come forth, — for that style of thing was done in Florence 
in those days, — she gave him his share of an abstracted look 
taking in tiie housefronts and the lamp-post near which he 
stood. ... A handsome man, young, the faintest smear of 
charcoal-dust on his upper lip, — seventeen perhaps. A son of 
family, quite certainly. 

No, he was not there for her sake, he remained watching 
the door, while pretending not to, after she had passed. For 
somebody else, then, living in the same house. She had seen 
him half a dozen times before she could determine whom. One 
evening she recognized him in the shadowy form hanging about 
the stairs, once even in the court, — her court. She knew all 
by that time, and scorned him. It was the French maid on the 
second fioor. This person took a child out for the air every 
morning, she went to the Fortezza where the little one could 
play. 

And he, a gentleman, could degrade himself to pursue that 
creature, — Parisian, yes, but ugly, and not a day less than 
twenty-five. 

The rather sweet, hungry, expectant, young-dog look of a boy 



52 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

belonging to circles where the maidens are so gaaa^ded that if 
there is to be romance it must be sought where there are greater 
facilities — mollified her not at all. It disgusted her. It dis- 
gusted her to the point finally that running into him unex- 
pectedly under the archway she drew herself up and gave him 
a look in which was expressed all that decent people^ la gents 
per bene, think of such bad taste, a prolonged, punishing, proud 
look, — then passed on^ her heart thumping with the excitement 
of the thing. 

On the day following, glancing from the tail of her eye to 
see if he were at his usual post, she did not find him. Before 
she had reached the end of the street he passed her, then 
lingered and allowed her to pass. She did it in haste, with 
downcast eyes and rising color. Beaching Miss Heller's she 
rang with all her might. Never, it seemed to her, never had 
old Italia in her distant kitchen been so slow pulling the wire 
that released the catch and allowed the little door cut in the 
large one to swing inward. 

When at midday she was obliged to come out again, the gal- 
lant was standing sentry across the way. She was aware of 
him following her at a just respectful distance. 

To be followed by a man is frightening, for man is a Hunter. 
There is a difference though in the degree of disagreeableness 
of the fright if the hunter is so desirable-looking as to be him- 
self an imaginable object of hunt. . . . 

Next day it was the same thing. At a just respectful dis- 
tance he followed her to school and home. On the day after 
that the same. When this proceeding had been kept up for 
three successive days it took the aspect rightly of romance, 
filling the thoughts of sixteen with surmises, tremors, a sense 
of initiation, and the excitement of a great secret. 

On the fourth morning, as she was reaching the school, he 
passed ahead of her and pushed a letter under the door. 

It was inscribed, " To the First who shall enter.'* 

" Signorina,'* it ran, " I write to crave your pardon, and to 
explain my apparent impertinence in following you on the 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 63 

street. But how could a man of the least sensibility endure 
the thought of so much grace and gentilezza walking unpro- 
tected in a city with whose iniquities he is but too well 
acquainted? I cannot conceive of the false security or the 
remissness that so exposes a dove to falcons. Fear not that I 
shall presume myself to offer the offense which it is my deter- 
mination to prevent others from offering. Begard me solely as 
a cavalier whose courage and strength are dedicated to your 
service. 8uo devotisdmo Giulio FortL'* 

How delicate I How knightly I . . . Her climbing of the 
stairs was sleep-walking. She adjusted the slats of the blind 
80 that, unseen, she could look at him where he loitered in the 
doorway across the street. He must have very little to do, 
really, to afford all that time. But of course it was vacation 
for him as for her. And he had the resource of cigarettes. 
Now he was talking with the porter, of whom he had just b^ged 
a light. He took off his sl3*aw hat to fan himself with, for 
even on the shady side of the freshly-watered street it was hot 
weather. He was a pretty boy, — her words for him were "a 
handsome man,'^ — with a covering of black astrakhan to his 
small round head, a speaking eye, dainty features, and a warm- 
toned skin agreeably sprinkled with freckles. He wore the 
carefully fitted clothes of a good class, new but not too new, a 
light silk tie chosen with thought. 

Camilla that day omitted scales and exercises. Her piano 
could be heard in the street. She played her show pieces. Leg 
Cloches du Monastdre, Lea Soupirs, La Caressante, various 
Chopin waltzes. She was a voluble pianist, a sure and rapid 
reader, and not yet fully aware of the defective tempo which 
was to keep her to the end from doing any great thing with 
her music. 

When she came forth at noon and her body-guard sprang 
from his door to fall into the relation of a dog at her heels, he 
first with his eyes wistfully begged to know by a look from 
her that he was understood and forgiven. She gave him the 
look he wanted. ... A moment later he hustled off the side- 



J 



64 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

walk a man who^ he considered^ had passed her too closely. 
There was a high word or two, then the workman grumblingly 
fell away from the irate young gentleman shaking his slender 
cane. 

They were warm, new heavens and new earth between which 
Camilla now moved forth at morning, with an oleander at her 
breast, token that she was a woman and adorned herself to be 
the more loved. For there was no supposing that the vague 
fever in her veins, glowing by day and filling the night with 
dreams, had not been caught, by a contagion as strange as 
subtle, from the fever in his brown eyes. 

At the end of a week his face, when upon reaching the school 
he hurried forward without a word to pull the bell-handle for 
her, was pale with anguish, and his eyes catching hers expressed 
urgent reproach. 

On the following morning he unexpectedly pressed inside the 
door after her, and pushed it to. They stood alone in the great 
stone hallway. He was obviously agitated, and her heart had 
stopped. 

" Signorina,'* he burst forth, hoarse with the sincerity of his 
emotion, "what have I done? I wish to know what you have 
against me. Never do you give me a look, never a smile. You 
regard me with horror, it is evident. And why ? Why ? I must 
find out before I live another day. If I am repulsive to you I had 
best go and drown myself. Why, tell me, do you act toward 
me as if I were either invisible or else a little dust in the street? 
Am I a toad, a reptile, in your eyes? *' 

Camilla had clenched one hand and pressed it over her heart, 
she lifted the other to her throat. Giulio was not surprised 
that a young girl should be terrified imder the circumstances 
to the point of fainting. In this great moment, the exhibition 
of her timidity must not make him timid. Trembling at his 
own courage, he took her hands, in part to reassure and if 
necessary support, in part to conquer further. He pressed 
them with all ^his strength, and commanded, imploringly^ 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 55 

^Look at me in the face^ and see if I am such a monster! See 
if you find in my eyes anything but love and loyalty ! Look^ I 
beg, look ! look ! '* He waited, straining her hands. 

Camilla, thus masterfully summoned, slowly lifted her face 
and looked. Both of them looked volumes. 

The next thing, he was gently grasping her head. She 
averted her lips with unaffected shrinking. He very respect- 
fully kissed her hair. He hoped he knew how a well-brought- 
up man behaves with well-brought-up young girls. 

A hard parrot voice, coming from above, out of sight, made 
them both jump. ''Who is there?'* It was Italia, who when 
she had pulled the wire that governed the street door was wont 
to come down from her kitchen and let the visitor in at the 
door of the first fioor. Seeing no one, she was making inquiry. 

*' It *8 Camilla,'' was called to her from below. *' I am com- 
ing. I am resting a minute. Leave the door open." 

The stone-fioored, echoing hallway where they stood was vast 
as a royal ballroom. At the farther end, the broad low stairs 
vanishing upward; on the right, the long wall, unbroken save 
by one door, — the ground-fioor was reserved by the owner, al- 
ways absent; at the left, three open arches letting into a court, 
bottom of a wide white shaft wirwindows, over thich a Bqtiai« 
of burning blue sky. The pavement of this court was green 
with the damp of centuries; a stone coping, projecting from 
the wall, hemmed in enough earth to support a spindling rose- 
tree. 

"I am forced to go away to-morrow," Giulio still short- 
breathed with emotion whispered spasmodically, *'and how 
could I go without learning my fate from you? I am com- 
pelled to visit my married sister and be absent for two eternal 
weeks. My f amUy is obliged to stay in town through the sum- 
mer, you must know, by my grandmother's serious illness, but 
my parents insist that I shall go for the change. I vow I will 
not I I will disobey, and incur I know not what from their 
displeasure, unless you promise to answer the letters I shall 
write you. Do you promise ? Viareggio. Poste Kestante. . . . 



56 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

I will not compromise you by remaining longer. On the way 
home make me happy by a glance now and then^ when it will 
not be observed. . . . Farewell, my soul. I am your slave.'* 

Among the letters to be redirected to Mademoiselle Heller she 
found his first letter. She answered it there at the sdiool when 
she ought to have been practising. Li the two weeks of his ab- 
sence she received some twenty letters, for he sometimes in the 
ardor of his passion wrote twice a day. The same did she. 

As life was far from monotonous at the Mediterranean water- 
ing-place where in beautiful striped tights of white and blue 
he took glorious swims twice a day, one might suppose that bits 
of news, information, anecdote, a little fun, would have found 
their way into his letters. Not at all. They were love-letters, 
neat. He would write: 

*^ How, my adored fidanzata, can I live through the days 
and months and years that must pass before the blessing of 
the sacerdote will have given me tiie right to call you mine, 
wholly, wholly and forever noinel When I think that at the 
end of summer I must, as my parents have decided, so to Zurich 
to complete my studied, and bedivided from you hj mountains 
as well as months, I feel that, in view of the anguish of that dis- 
tance and waiting, it had almost been better had I never met the 
beam of your beauteous eye. But courage ! Let us take cour- 
age, thinking of our future happiness.*' 

She would write : 

^' In the night, in dreams, you are always with me. I cannot 
sleep but you are there, and so I find myself, when I am not 
ardently wishing for a letter, sighing for the night and dreams. 
Caro mio bene, should you ever love me less, how could I endure 
it! If ever your heart should change toward me, if ever an- 
other should have the place with you which it is my joy and 
honor to hold, keep it a secret from me, I conjure you I I 
naight kill myself ... or perhaps you ! *' 

A day earlier than she had expected he stood at the Heller 
entrance, in time to slip in with her. He folded her to his 
breast, both of them breathless and throbbing. But again with 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 67 

a brusque, inBtmctive movement she got her lips out of the way,* 
and he controlled his impulse. A man who respects himself 
respects his own affianced. He pressed a long kiss upon her 
brow. 

Baising a warning finger, she listened for a second, then 
sang ont to Italia, '^ I am going to rest a moment before doing 
the stairs. Let the door stand open for me.^ 

They seated themselves on the bottom steps for a good long 
scene in whispers. 

Never were there snch facilities, for Italia wonld not think 
of the door again, save to suppose that Camilla had come in 
by it and shut it behind her. Any one descending could be 
heard long before seen. Giulio had time to tiptoe out, Camilla 
would appear to be just arriving. When the danger was past, 
she could let Oiulio in again. 

The facilities were in fact too great! These young things 
had leisure to say everything a thousand times over. 

Both of them knew a great deal about lovers, from general 
rumor and private confidence, from drama, book and song. 
Their wide-awake Latin minds had early incorporated all that 
lore, and they acted now in as grown-up a manner as they 
knew. Camilla developed an umbrageous mood one day, diuv 
ing which she questioned him about his past. Oh, nothing of 
any consequence, he said, with regard to a certain francese. 
He had had the opportunity to render her a service when she 
was caught in the rain with her little charge. He had chanced 
to be carrying an umbrella, that was all. After that, he had 
continued the acquaintance, just a little, from courtesy. 

Novices, they played their parts according to romantic con- 
ventions known to both, beneath which the unconventional heart 
did in the case of each after its nature. 

It appeared, as gradually as a fiower fades on its stalk, that 
even he, even in vacation, had duties occasionally, engagements, 
pressing engagements, things which must be attended to for 
his father, or mother, or grandmother. He would have to con- 
sult his watch. Sometimes he could only stay a minute. She 



58 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

asked him one day why he was in such a heavy humor, so silent. 
He asked sadly in reply how could he be different^ living in a 
house where all were so deeply concerned over the condition of 
his poor grandmother. Added to this, his aunt was arriving 
to see her mother, and was bringing his cousins. They would 
take up his whole time for the next few days. Camilla looked 
at him attentively. Murmuring, ^*My idol!** he drew her 
cheek down to his shoulder, and imprisoned her hands in those 
pretty, dry, brown hands of his that had the gift of pleasing 
her so much. 

La Caressante, as it rang forth from her window on certain 
of those soft summer mornings, might have been mistaken for 
a musical imitation of artillery sputtering amid the varied 
sounds of battle ; Les Soupirs, for the tone-portrayal of a wreck 
tossed in a heavy swell. 

. One morning, with the affected briskness of a man who does 
his best to put a good face on a tiresome business, he said, 
"Expect me not, my Camilla, to-morrow. I am sent off to 
visit my married sister up at Vicchio. A sudden decision. 
My family, saying that I have grown thin, as I have indeed 
with the cruel auxiety of our secret, believe I need a change. 
A dreadful bore, but what can I do ? ** 

" Another married sister 1 How many more married sisters, 
caro mio, have you in your pocket?'* 

" There is stiQ another, three in all. I was bom long after 
them, the only man-child, which gives an excuse to old friends 
of the house for saying that my parents spoil me. And I am 
sorry to tell you, Camilla, that you must not write to me there, 
for there is no such thing as poste restante. The letters are 
brought to the villa by a peasant, and my sister distributes 
them. Nor shall I find it possible to write you, for I could 
not post my letter unknown.** 

Bianca that night was roused from the deadness of sleep by 
unaccustomed signs of life in her bed-fellow, Camilla, who, she 
realized with horror, was struggling in the effort to keep her 
sobbing inside and imheard. 



\ 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 69 

^^What is it? Oh, what is the matter ?'' she asked, feeling 
in the dark for her sister's shoulder. 

"Non mi seccarel*' Camilla answered with a fnrious dash of 
lier heeL ^^ Bother me not ! ** but without concealment after 
fliat relieved her need to weep. 

Oiulio at Yicchio, far among the hills I Giulio thinking of 
her, while from the high loggia he looked Florenceward. 
Oiulio sending his wishes as he gazed at Venus, stella confidente, 
brightening in the fading sunset. . . . 

The pain of absence, of this black and total silence, was 
snch that on the fourth day, after reading over all his letters, 
she broke the rule and stole out to go for just a minute to his 
street and satisfy her yearning to see the windows of his vacant 
room. 

She did not go far, for on the way she saw him, or — for 
a moment she thought herself the victim possibly of an halluci- 
nation. It was his exact image, anyhow. He walked along 
lightly, his straw hat far back on his head, his pretty nose and 
white teeth to the wind, talking with a boy of his own age 
and l^pe. He was laughing, as he drew something on the air 
with his half-burned cigarette ; she caught the glint in the sun- 
shine of the signet-ring on his little finger. She turned and 
ran. 

That day she asked Bianca if she would help her, and then 
told her everjiihing. 

At evening, — Antenore was kept late at the station on cer- 
tain nights of the week, — they slipped out together while 
Battistina's back was turned, and hurrying like guilty creatures 
went to the Comelio gardens. 

Almost invariably, when Camilla had asked how he had spent 
the evening, Giulio had said, " At Comelio's, with my father.*' 
They posted themselves in an unlighted doorway whence they 
could watch the entrance of the fashionable open air caf 6. Over 
the laurel wall inside the iron railing floated golden haze. 
Between pieces of band-music were intervals of clattering china 
and voices. Figures passed in, figures passed out. 



60 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

It was not 80 simple as they had thought, this waiting. Wish- 
ing to be unnoticed as mice, they felt more conspicuous than 
camels. Pallina^ who had refused absolutely to stay behind, 
had the vile habit of yapping at passers, cracks and cuffs could 
not subdue her. The persons barked at naturally turned to 
look. 

Half a dozen times footsteps were heard, or imagined, on the 
stairs farther within. The girls each time hurried out of the 
way and, against their habit afraid of everybody, walked along 
the house-fronts the length of the gardens, then back, to en- 
sconce themselves again, very uneasy as to what the strolling 
Guard of Public Safety had thought, half expecting him to 
darken the doorway suddenly and question them. Oh, it was 
an evening to remember like some painful nightmare. Ca- 
milla, in spite of all, never lost sight of their reason for being 
there. 

Now she grabbed Bianca's arm. Giulio was coming out, 
with a party, — the boy she had seen with him earlier in the 
day, and two young girls dressed exactly alike, the cousins, 
very probably; behind them, a middle-aged gentleman and lady. 

"The grandmother must be getting well,'* said Camilla 
through her teeth, ^' seeing they can laugh like that 1 '* 

"We will say,'' she arranged with Bianca on the way home> 
" that while we stood at the door taking the air Maria Nutini 
and her mother passed, and we joined them for a turn. They 
left us at the comer.'' 

Every time Bianca that night was wakened by the light, she 
saw Camilla writing. Once her tears were fdling upon the 
paper. Ordered to keep still, Bianca sorrowfully rdapsed into 
her healthy young sleep. 

Next morning Camilla posted her letter. If it fell into his 
mother's hands, so much the worse for him. 

To live on, days, months^ years, with that burden of love 
turned back upon the heart, like a dammed-in torrent, how could 
it be endured? What, what did one do to destroy the spell by 
which another got tiiis dreadful power to fill one's every 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 61 

thoiighty made himself master over the motions of one's blood? 
. . . For Camilla, in her outraged pride, desired not to love 
Ginlio any more. 

The hours of suspense were so intolerable that she more than 
once wished she never had been bom. 

She had calculated the earliest at which she might expect an 
answer. She allowed not one hour more, before writing him 
again. And then she waited with confidence, knowing posi- 
tively that she should see him. 

In this second waiting she had the first glimmering notion 
that she might feel better by and by, — that the burning sense 
of soilure and ignominy attached to feeling oneself trampled 
and disdained might be turned to victorious gladness by making 
the other, the dear enemy, feel himself more trampled, more 
disdained. 

She was not wishing she never had been bom while, gather- 
ing suggestion from Spanish ballad and Sicilian tale, she plot- 
ted a development of the story in every point worthy of herself. 
Her scene firmly imagined and finished with the right artistic 
touches, she could actually hum that afternoon. When Bianca 
helping Battistina to hunt for the vegetable knife needed to 
prepare supper asked her if she had seen anything of it, she 
could answer by a careless snatch of song. 

At ten precisely, without the necessity to ring, the little door 
ent in the large one yielded to Qiulio's hand. He was fortified 
to meet his lady just inside, but the great hallway was empty. 
Surprised, he took a few doubtful steps, made up his mind, and 
fell to pacing the fioor. After a while he stopped under the 
middle arch, sent an absent glance from window to window up 
the white shaft to the square of blue sky, and composed himself 
to wait where he stood, arms crossed, feet well apart He was 
a trifle pale and, with his bothered air, appeared more grown-up 
than when six or seven weeks ago, with the desert ahead of the 
long empty season in town, he had wondered what resources of 
distraction the streets, his only hope, might afford. 

Half an hour passed. The shutter inside the window above 



62 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

and opposite moved^ Camilla's hand appeared^ beckoning him to 
mount the stairs. 

She met him at the door of the primo piano, but when he 
would have taken her hand she hurried before him into Miss 
Heller^s own sacred sitting-room, where the chairs were in 
ghostly covers, and the chandelier was muffled in a gauze bag. 
The closed windows kept out the heat and noise, kept in the 
faint musty smell. She turned, they looked at each other, and 
she smiled as it struck him a singular smile. 

*^ You wished to see me/' he said. 

" I did. But I have seen you already. For twenty minutes 
I watched you from behind the shutter when you did not know 
I was there, you were standing under the arch. And I believe 
it saved your life. . . . See what I had brought.** She showed 
him a little knife, bright and pointed, with a handle of horn. 
It must be said that her dagger looked rather like a vegetable 
knife. He gave a just perceptible start. His heart had natu- 
rally jumped. But he knew, deep down, that the dagger was 
part of play-acting. With a gesture intended insolently to reas- 
sure, she threw it on the table, and smiled the singular smile 
which twisted her lips to an expression of such excessive irony. 
*^Be not afraid. I had never seen your face when you were 
trying to cover your fear, and inventing lies to tell me. After 
that spectacle I decided you were not worthy of my powder. 
N"o, you need fear nothing from that silly stiletto, either for 
yourself or me. I am not sure which I meant it for. Both per- 
haps.*' 

" Come, Camilla,** he started, in the low soft, ultra-reasonable 
tone which any man knows is the one to adopt with excited, un- 
reasonable women, **comeI This is hardly the speech to hold 
to me. You are too agitated to know what you are saying. It 
seems to me that after such a letter as you wrote, threatening 
me — nientedimeno! — with a blow on the cheek wherever you 
met me, before everybody ! it is I rather than you who have the 
right to call myself offended. If I am here it is because I love 
you in spite of your bad treatment of me, and wish to explain.'* 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 63 

This gentle and well-intentioned speech was interrupted by a 
sort of human feminine rendering of a leonine roar from Ca- 
milla. 

'*Znrigol ZurigoII Ha I *' she exclaimed, " Those are your 
tactics^ are they? What you are thinking is that in a few days 
more you will depart for Zurigo. You need only keep up this 
comedy for a few days, and then you can drop me without fear. 
All you will have to do is not to write. . . . '* Her eyes flared 
up intense and green^ she took a pantherine step nearer, ^^ But 
L • • .^ She smacked the varnished table starUingly with the 
flat of her palm, *^ I do not admit that I am a person who can 
be dropped. And you are here in order that I may drop you 
flrst, and in such a manner as you cannot mistake or forget. 
You shall know yourself quite certainly, ragazzo mio, to have 
been discarded. But I wish you to remember for another 
time. . • .'' Another pantherine step nearer. His manhood, 
of which he was at the moment intensely conscious, forbade his 
receding by an inch. "I wish you to remember for another 
time that one does not^ so lightly take up and throw over per- 
sons like me. A man of nothing like yourself takes a puny wax- 
doll to make love to and then neglect, knowing that it is 
safe. . . .'* She was under his very nose. " I wish you to learn 
the danger there is in making love to ... to tigresses! Will 
you remember hereafter — '* His head was suddenly clutched, 
he felt claws through his hair, " to keep to your own kind, and 
let alone such creatures as could eat you at a bite? A man 
should be the stronger, while you — I could dare, flght, love, ten 
to your one. I saw it while you stood down there. Will you re- 
member? . . .^ 

The pain of her iron flngemails in his scalp was fairly unen- 
durable, but he stood it with boyish dignity, like a little Spar- 
tan; for one thing, certain that if he tried to free himself he 
would come forth all the more sorrily scratched; for another, not 
flnding this maltreatment by passionate feminine fingers alto- 
gether disagreeable. His eyes were half closed, an enigmatic 
smiled played over his lips. At the same time he was in- 



64 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

tensely on the alert, ready to prevent her making him ridicnlouB 
beyond a certain limit. 

"Will you remember/' she said, "what happens when one 
amuses himself with persons who have blood in their veins? 
Will you? There, go. I do not believe you will forgef 

She released him with a push. With ceremonious delibera- 
tion he took out his pockethandkerchief, to wipe a goutlet of 
blood from the edge of his hair. 

"These are scarcely parliamentary methods!*' he said, and 
managed a laugh. " But a man — '^ An enormous increase in his 
sense of masculine importance appeared in his bearing, " a man, 
you know, cannot resent such fairy touches from the hand of a 
lady. He is bound to consider such attentions a compliment. 
I have been flattered beyond my deserts. But I cannot be mis- 
taken in thinking that I have brought love and caresses this 
morning to the wrong market, and so, with your permission, I 
will withdraw. Until another day, Camilla, when you feel more 
kindly disposed. N"o, my Camilla, I shall not forget you. I 
think I can promise in all sincerity not to forget.*' 

He got to the door a little hurriedly, but with the hope that 
he had not come off so very badly after all. Once outside the 
house, the little future man of the world took a deep lungful of 
the free air. The thumb he presently slipped through his arm- 
hole, while with the other hand he swung his cane, expressed as 
far as it could the enrichment he felt in the knowledge of 
women gained that morning. Hero of a scene of jealousy I 
But who would have dreamed that a well-brought-up girl . . . ? 
He delicately touched his temple, to see if it still bled. 

Camilla had thrown herself into one of the shrouded arm- 
chairs. The scene had not been what she intended. One thing 
after the other, finally that ferocious need to get her fingers 
among his hair, had interfered. But she regretted nothing, 
though not unaware of having, to produce her grand effect, torn 
off a part of herself and thrown it to the crows. She would 
bleed, and she would miss it, — still, for the moment she re- 
gretted nothing. 



CHAPTEB Vn 

CAMILLA became proficient in Spanigh during the next 
scholastic year. She did so wish later that she might have 
learned Bussian in childhood too. Spanish she found very nse- 
foL BoBsian, which would have been at least equally useful^ she 
never knew perfectly^ from having applied herself to it after 
losing the parrot memory of youth. 

Her singing lessons were early given up. She had not a 
good ear. A pity that Bianca could not have had her opportuni- 
ties^ Bianca whose childish feet had trotted so indefatigably 
after the band, Bianca whose ear was so true, and her musicid 
memory so strong. 

The painting of flowers on porcelain went a little better, 
though Camilla was not very gifted in that direction either. 
The final fruit of many lessons in art was a pretty ability to de- 
sign embroidery patterns. 

She was one of the oldest girls in school now, her dress himg 
below the white apron, and trailed behind, when not held up by 
a little invention called a " page/' The yoimger girls admired 
her immensely, for she had the interesting air of those persons 
to whom things happen. Things had happened to her already, 
it was believed. That frequent expression of hers, a mingling 
of proud bitterness and mjrstery, well beseemed a heroine. 
Sometimes she appeared nervous, and had a fit of unexplained 
seeping. It leaked out in time that there was a bundle of let- 
ters, one of the older girls had seen them. 

But no girl ever got the whole story. That in it which was to 
Camilla a subject of remorse she kept to herself. There had 
been a kiss or two, after all. No man of the right sort, she 

06 



66 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

supposed, would ever care to marry her after that, if he knew. 
Her line was clear, but the secret knowledge of those poor 
kisses was none the less painful^ in view particularly of that 
humiliating ending. In the night oftentimes, for long months 
after, her heart would be caught as if in a screw by the remem- 
brance of the past. Unpractical longing for all to have been 
different, or else for all by some wonderful twist of fortune still 
to turn out well, and she and Giulio be restored to each other, 
would wring tears from her. But in her saner moments fihe 
knew there was no hope of that, and simply cried into her pil- 
low because she could not get Giulio out of her blood. 

In the course of this year Camilla wrote two accomplished 
letters to Count Mari, besides the unfailing New Year and ono- 
mastic compositions. One contained congratulations upon the 
marriage of Bezia, the other, following close upon it, condolences 
upon the death of Countess Maria, both of which events had 
been learned through the newspapers. That there should be no 
acknowledgment of these was nothing new, and seemed no 
alarming sign. 

She did not know what reasons Signora Orlandi and Made- 
moiselle Heller had for alarm. For the first time the trimes- 
trial bill had not been noticed. A thousand things might ac- 
count for it, as Signora Orlandi bade her friend keep in mind : 
the daughter's marriage, and, so soon after it, the wife's death* 
A semestrial bill was hopefully sent in. 

"Listen," Signora Orlandi said to Mademoiselle Heller, in 
the privacy of the little drawing-room where Camilla had once 
ficorchingly called the school-boy Giulio a man of nothing, " lis- 
ten. I do not wish to influence you. All I can say, my dear, 
is that Count Mari, whom I have known for many years, is, 
whatever his faults, a galaniuomo, and that I believe you are 
safe. No, my dear, I will not make myself responsible. I only 
tell you that I in your place would go on without a moment's 
doubt. The Mari are great people, die diamine! and do not 
cheat little people like us. If the Count should now do it, all 
I can say is that it would astonish me ! *' 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 67 

Whicli sensible and cautions talk did not prevent a quarrel 
between the friends at the end of the school-year, followed by a 
coldness. They for several years did not speak. It was not 
that the suflfering of her pocket unduly embittered Sophie, but 
that while in a state of natural vexation over it she said, and 
Mathilde said to her, things which two very human and 
faulty women could not forgive until they had pretty nearly 
forgotten. 

Count Mari, it seemed, was not to be reached by letters. 
They could not ascertain where he was. One rumor said Sar- 
dinia^ where his son the lieutenant was stationed. Another said 
Catania, where his daughter had gone to live. A third said 
Paris. Villa del Bruco was closed, the stately apartment on the 
Yiale closed. The porter said that as far as he knew his 
master was still in Naples where the Countess had died. 

Camilla was spared the mortification of knowing she was not 
paid for until the day of the quarrel. 

The most disagreeable part of the disagreeable business was 
having to tell them at home. She had shown them the certifi- 
cate which declared her fitted to impart knowledge of the most 
various. Antenore had said that now without a doubt Count 
Mari would find her a field for these many talents. Through 
his influence she would in some high capacity be attached to a 
great house. Or, more likely still, he would give her a marriage 
portion and see to her appropriate settlement in life. 

Her soul loathed to let the babbo know. He had such a nerve- 
racking way of harping on things. 

It was just as bad as she had feared. All that summer she 
heard nothing else. He gave his opinion of Count Mari more 
frequently than the best of us say our prayers. It was a re- 
lief in autumn to go back to the prison of Miss Heller's, where 
to pay for her last year she was made a general utility governess. 
A little black apron replaced the great white one. 

A lonely position, she discovered. She was no longer one of 
the girls, and was not really one of the corps of teachers. She 
suffered the same disadvantage as persons who remain too long 



68 THE TBtJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

upon the earth: all her friends had left before her^ and she 
could not perpetually be making new ones. 

Miss Heller had never grown fond of her^ and though a kind 
woman was not so ideally just as to let her feel none of the re- 
proach of another's fault. 

Camilla taught the youngest children; if a girl were slow or 
backward, she helped her after school hours; if one were sick in 
bed she sat with her, read to her. 

That she was useful seemed proved by Mademoiselle retaining 
her on a small salary. A new duty fell to her this year. A 
pupil of more than usual importance had entered the school, 
and a new, more expensive music master was engaged, a man 
known in the beau monde. It was upon this considered neces- 
sary to have a third person in the room while the young ladies 
took their lesson. Camilla's silent presence gave the occasion 
that elegant propriety which the best people demand. 

A premature seriousness had come over her with her disap- 
pointoients and responsibilities. At the age when girls are 
commonly at their most blooming, she had little bloom. She 
was thin and without color. But year by year her features were 
taking the delicate jewel-like precision and finish which by and 
by made her remarked. She wore the expression mostly of 
thinking something disagreeable, and went her ways uncom- 
panioned and uncomplaining, save for bitter occasional re- 
marks on general subjects, life, love, which would have been 
curious to hear from lips so young, but that Camilla had an ef- 
fect of harboring deeps below deeps of worldly wisdom which 
might justify a dark view of things. 

She performed her tasks scrupulously. All her life, besides a 
detestation of being found fault with, she had pride in doing 
whatever she did better than others, winning applause by her ef- 
ficiency, and gratitude by her serviceableness. Compiacente, 
they unanimously called her at school. Compiacente, word 
which means, literally, one who makes of your pleasure her own. 
" You, who are always so obliging,'' her companions were wont 
to introduce their requests. So Mademoiselle found her a re- 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 69 

liable aid and accepted the intimation, conveyed by a motion 
of the aristocratic eyebrows, that she had no longer the right 
to steal on her in felt shoes and interfere with her reading 
romanzi if she pleased, as long as she bought her own candle. 

Partly from those volumes Camilla gathered strength and 
hope. In their pages fortunes changed, the situation which 
looked so dark turned out well in the last chapters. Even when 
the affair ended badly there was a rich atmosphere about the 
thing which stimulated the imagination, till it saw that life 
could not continue indefinitely gray for one with all the qualifi- 
cations of a heroine. 

Oh, Camilla had plenty to think about there in the music 
room, while Maestro Oraziani drilled technique and expression 
into little dunces of quality. He was most gentle with them. 
" Shall we do that passage over again? '* he would inquire, cere- 
moniously. And, "Your little finger is delicious,'^ he would 
say, " but you must not curl it back. That is the old style, as 
when our grandmothers played the harpsichord. The mignolo 
down on the keyboard, I entreat you.** 

He was a handsome, serious-looking, quietly stylish man of 
fifty or more, with a forked gray beard and a grave dark eye, 
which commanded the respect of pupils and the regard of par- 
ents. Like noble fathers on the stage, he looked, in his long 
frock coat, tall hat and gray gloves, — Armand's father, when 
he comes to demand of the Lady of the Camellias that she give 
up his son, Camilla thought, and then thought of him very lit- 
tle more — until one day, when there was an interval between 
the leaving of one pupil and the arrival of the next, she heard 
him coming across the fioor to her window, where he stopped 
and watched her a moment bowed over her embroidery 
frame. 

"Of what are we thinking, hella hambinaf** he unexpectedly 
asked her. 

She lifted her face, coloring. He was smiling down at her, 
like an amiable Satyr made up for the part of Duval pire. She 
replied with a little repellent twitch of her face, "Nothing I ** 



70 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

At that moment the pupil was heard approaching the door, 
and Graziani, without the effect of nimbleness, but with the re- 
sult of it^ was at his accustomed place near the piimo. 

Camilla after that thought of him with half dislike^ but -yet 
with greatly increased interest. Ordinarily a music lesson did 
not end until the pupil to follow had entered the room. It was 
several days before another delay. Camilla had wondered 
much what Graziani would do with his next opportunity. He 
remained at his piano, and improvised, magnificently. But Ca- 
milla was right in not believing all ended between them. 

When next they were alone he came to stand as once before 
beside her embroidery frame. After a moment's silence during 
which she had not looked up, " Divine girls ! '^ he murmured, 
then, '^Living silk!^' and passed his hand over her hair fon- 
dlingly, to feel the warm, elastic, inviting texture. 

"Do you take offense ?'' he asked, as she drew away, and 
his face expressed both offense, and hurt at her offense, " You 
are wrong, — I will tell you why another time," he added, and 
left her, to greet the entering pupil. 

Miss Heller came in that forenoon, as she was used to do, 
now and then, to talk with Maestro Graziani about the progress 
of his pupils. Her manner with him was different, Camilla 
maliciously remarked, from her manner with poor good Maes- 
trini, the unpretentious other music master, still in charge of the 
commoner young ladies, — who did not have to be chaperoned, 
they. She was gracious and deferent. They reciprocally prac- 
tised their finest manner, laughing together like people sure of 
imderstanding each other, because they belong on the same 
plane, somewhat above the rest. 

The little governess, still as a mouse, grinned unnoticed in her 
comer, wondering what Mademoiselle would say if she knew 
. . . a^d it cannot be denied that aoi inborn relish of intrigue 
furnished a point of pleasure to the remembrance of what she 
had not in the least enjoyed. A sense of victory over blind plain 
Sophie Heller made her half desire the further making a fool of 
himself of the correct gray gentleman. Mademoiselle had made 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 71 

too litUe of a favorite, really, of her oldest and most brilliant 
papiL 

^evertheleas^ nneasiness invaded Camilla from her head to 
her feet when next the music master was for a moment lord 
of the field. Young women, there is hardly a doubt, are afraid 
of men when they do not feel entirely safe against their enter- 
prise, of older men particularly, with their easy mastery over 
the art of putting them in the wrong, with words. Camilla's 
first impulse was to escape . . . but curiosity kept her hesi- 
tating, till she decided to be brave. 

"And how is this little sensitive plant to-day?'' spoke Gra- 
ziani with insinuating gentleness, and such a smile as might have 
served a bogy, wishing to win the confidence of a shy kitten. 
"This little bunch of fiowers," he varied his rhetoric, "whose 
perfume I can smell across the room, and it draws me, it draws 
me, to come and breathe it close. . . ." 

" Please ! . . . Please ! . . ." She dipped aside and put up a 
defensive hand. 

" What is it, cara, but a natural law that flowers draw lovers, 
— lovers of honey ? " 

" I will complain ! *' 

" My child, be happy that you are charming enough to make 
a foolish old fellow forget le convenienze. . . ." 

It seemed to her that if his wide-nostrilled nose, in its appar- 
ent purpose of breathing fiowers in her neck, came near enough 
to touch her, she should fall into convulsions outright, from dis- 
gust. 

" Some one is coming ! '* she gasped, and briskly straighten- 
ing away from her he walked off. After a moment, " Did you 
hear anything? *' he whispered, puzzled, but spent the rest of the 
interval walking up and down, with the thoughtful air which 
made parents trust him. He appeared to have forgotten all 
about her. 

That was the close of the episode. For the next time he al- 
lowed the youth of his heart to belie his gray exterior, he was 
caught. Miss Heller did not go through the hallways with the 



72 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Btormy step of youth ; even when she had not the felt slippers on 
she moved with little noise. So the click of the door gave the 
first warning. Oraziani, who had bent to speak low^ could be 
taken to be in the act of examining Camilla's work. . . . 

He carried it off extremely well, so did Camilla, so did Made- 
moiselle Heller, though her German performance was not quite 
equal to that of the Italians. Camilla was wickedly glad to 
think of the old bo/s scare, — which did not prevent her, when 
asked point-blank later in the private drawing-room what 
Maestro Graziani had been saying that necessitated his stand- 
ing so near, from widening her clear eye and answering, " He 
told me I reminded him of a daughter he had lost. She too 
used to embroider forget-me-nots.^' Mademoiselle said no more, 
but made the rule that when a pupil left the room before the 
next had come Camilla should leave with her, and only re- 
turn in company. With which arrangement Camilla was well 
satisfied, and treated Qraziani thereafter like an unknown, even 
as he treated her. 

But Camilla never ceased to believe that the incident rankled 
in Mademoiselle's bosom and infiuenced her later. She was 
perhaps right, but she did not do Mademoiselle justice. Nature 
had made them the opposite of affinities, but Camilla was one of 
Mademoiselle's fiock, and Mademoiselle had the shepherd's feel- 
ing toward her. It was true that she would have liked to be rid 
of her after the Graziani episode, irked by the smothered inso- 
lence of beauty and power of which she seemed to get whiffs 
through the subordinate's unobjectionable surface manners. It 
was the care, day and night, of this harassed head of a female 
school to keep Love, the Archer, outside its doors. And how 
could she be easy with a creature inside the citadel, of whose 
magnetism for the enemy she had so strong a suspicion? 

If Mademoiselle did not dismiss Camilla, it was because the 
girl's lines seemed to her cast too unhappily. She was sorry for 
her black lamb, forgotten by the noble patron. She decided to 
find some good position for her before they parted. But after a 
time other interests covered that one over, and all went on as 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 73 

before. Another year^ though^ Graziani's services were dis- 
pensed with^ and the trusty Maestrini was reinstated over the 
litUe pianists. 

^^And is it to go on and on and on like this?'' Camilla 
would ask herself^ as month followed month of pitiless routine. 
Aud her spirit quailed before the monotony of the vista. She 
felt in herself such energy to fight the world, such capacity to 
conquer destiny, such talent for life I But she saw no way 
of applying them, perceived no place where to insert the thin 
end of the wedge. 

As a first step in the good direction, she decided to earn if 
possible a little money besides her wages, which her father took 
almost entire. Essential for a woman that she have a few 
things in which to look well. Nothing came from Bezia any 
more. A female instinct bade her, as the most practical thing 
to do, furnish herself with means to be beautiful on her oc- 
casional appearances in the world, high Mass at the Santissima, 
Sunday afternoon walk in the Cascine. 

Luminous result of her ruminations was the idea of selling 
her embroideries, of which she had theretofore made gifts. Not 
selling them to shops for further market, — she knew what pit- 
tances are paid for needlework, — but through the students to 
their parents, the ingenuous Americans particularly, who find 
Italian wares so cheap! There was always a goodly propor- 
tion of Americans at the Institut. Mrs. Marquhardt, mistress 
of the large American pension, loyally used her infiuence to ad- 
vance the interests of the school where her daughters had re- 
ceived their education. Camilla from that first school-friend- 
ship had retained a disposition to like Americans. They were 
rather like a chamber that is lighted, and you can see into it, 
while it cannot see into the twilight where you stand looking. 

She had small difficulty in starting her little trade, the em- 
broideries were of the most delicate, the girls admired the em- 
broideress and delighted to serve her, their mothers thought 
themselves favored by a chance to secure bargains. A down- 



74 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

right pity it seemed that it miist all remain on so tiny a scale ! 
Camilla's sole difficulty was to make the girls understand that 
secrecy was necessary in these transactions. They could not see 
why, and were restive under the restriction. She herself did 
not see any good reason why, any more than she saw an ob- 
jection to secrecy, in itself. She only was certain that if Miss 
Heller knew, she would spoil the sport. So she impressed it as 
deeply as she could on her frien^y agents that all concerned 
must be as circumspect as political spies, and with increasing 
joy brooded over the francs accumulating in the long silk purse 
hidden among her ribbons. 

It was through one of the mothers that all was lost. This 
bird-brained woman came to see Mademoiselle, and forgetting 
what she had never fully mastered called Mademoiselle's atten- 
tion to the handkerchief she carried, the work of that clever Miss 
Bugiani, who had promised her eleven more of the same pattern. 

So it came out. And then it appeared that the crowning 
heinousness of Camilla's offense lay in the secrecy, though it 
equally appeared that to take advantage of a position to make a 
private profit outside its lines was base, and to use the scholars 
as middlemen indefensible. The young, the young, who look up 
to you for a good example, to influence them to deceive I . . . 

Camilla had known that if found out she must pay for it, just 
as she had known that Mademoiselle if consulted would never let 
her arrange her petty commerce. She had with the courage of a 
speculator taken chances. But she had expected nothing worse 
than a terrific lavata di capo. She got that. During the proc- 
ess, it seemed to her more than once that she could stand no 
more, that she should have to talk back, hurl some fiery imper- 
tinence. She kept still, saying to herself that it must end some 
time, when Mademoiselle was tired out. She did not, of a truth, 
find the scolding unjust or misplaced. A la guerre camme a la 
guerre. One pays the price of being found out. She woke 
slowly to the fact that this was more serious than she had sup- 
posed, was dreadfully serious. Why did Mademoiselle bring up 
every instance of moral turpitude that could be laid at her door 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 76 

since the very day of her entrance? Mercy! What a list of 
sins I And what a memory was Mademoiselle's ! To think she 
had saved up all that^ apparently forgetting all the rest^ the as- 
siduity at work, the efforts to please, the innmnerable instances 
of serviceableness ! Camilla, despite an obstinate hardening of 
herself not to care, cringed at the portrait held up to her. A 
person of ripe years, with unbroken opportunity, can usually, if 
she tries, make a young girl feel herself small and shameful 
enough to desire nothing but to crawl out of sight and be for- 
gotten. Camilla was pale as a ghost, she could finally not have 
talked back if she had tried, her throat ached so, her lips were 
BO dry. Stupefied as she was by the merciless head-washing, she 
thought she could not have heard aright when Mademoiselle 
closed by saying violently she wished not to be vexed any longer 
by the sight of her, let her pack up her things and take herself 
off. This, Camilla had absolutely not expected. The thunder- 
bolt left her breathless, — and before she had found a word. 
Mademoiselle left the room. 

Extraordinary. She had meant what she said, Camilla felt 
it, with the singular sensation at the stomach sometimes de- 
scribed as goneness. It was not one of those threats she had 
80 often heard, intended to bring the sinner to terms, extract a 
prayer for pardon and a promise to do better. And if it had 
been literally meant, it seemed to Camilla so excessive that she 
could not explain it by her offense. 

She went to her room and dropped on the single chair in it, 
to think. Mademoiselle detested her, that was the bottom reason 
of all this. And though, long knowledge of the school mistress's 
temper made it conceivable, she would let herself be moved to 
reconsider her sentence if Camilla would show penitence enough, 
oh, what a soul-sickening lot of protesting and promising there 
would have to be I And then no real forgiveness, but indefinite 
probation, under a cloud of disgrace so thick the dullest school- 
child could perceive it. Camilla instinctively turned to con- 
sider the alternative. Uninviting enough, in all conscience. 
But not even the babbo and all the sordidness of home repre- 



76 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

sented quite so many bitter pills for pride to swallow. As she 
saw where her choice lay, Camilla found herself suddenly as 
angry with Mademoiselle as Mademoiselle had been with her. 
She called Mademoiselle as many names as she had been called 
by her. She defined Mademoiselle's reasons for detesting her. 
Not high-minded, those reasons. 

While doing this she went to the trunk-room. With clenched 
teeth, unaided, she dragged out her dusty trunk, and refusing 
to appear at the dinner-table rapidly packed, observing impres- 
sive silence toward all whom she passed in the course of collect- 
ing her belongings. 

Dramatic fitness, and her passion, which must not be allowed 
to cool, demanded that she should not spend another night be- 
neath that roof. Asking no favors, she descended to the piazza 
to call a cab, and, postponing all leave-taking, jumped into it 
and drove away, hoping she had given Sophie Heller a surprise ! 
On the box figured the little trunk, now dim and scratched, 
with which she had made her entrance over ten years ago. 

Fortunately she was still wound up with anger when she 
reached home. The family was scattered, but as if by magic, a 
few minutes after Camilla's arrival — in the middle of the 
week! in a fiacre! bringing her trunk! — all were gathered 
round her, goggle-eyed. 

She stood as queens stand in pictures. 

** I have left Mademoiselle Heller's forever 1 '' she announced. 
*' I could no longer support my existence there. She hates me 
. . . for reasons of her own, which I do not care to talk about, 
and has to-day insulted me past all endurance. You, father, 
who have so much of that just pride which is the badge of hon- 
est people, you better than anybody will understand your daugh- 
ter when she tells you that things had reached the pass where 
blood revolts and one throws material interests to the winds 
rather than suffer one's proper scorn for the cowardice of fur- 
ther patience. Let no one fear but that I can earn my bread. 
This, if Gk)d please, shall be the beginning of better f ortanes." 



CHAPTEB Vin 

IN a few days Camilla wrote her farewells, following the 
best examples of composition, a little perfect missiye to 
every one with the smallest claim on such an attention. She 
might have been thought from them to be a person of sensibility, 
and the amusing truth is that they were not insincere! The 
letter to Mademoiselle Heller was a miracle really of intelligence 
and discretion. Camilla needed Mademoiselle's good word, 
certainly, but, aside from that, she was not a person of long re- 
sentments, being too alive and too busy with the future. It was 
a thorn in her flesh, for other reasons than disappointed self- 
interest, that her old school mistress made no sign in reply. 

After some hesitation, she went to see the Signora Orlandi. 
This lady had dropped her upon the quarrel with Mademoiselle 
HeUer. Camilla needed her help now, — needed the help, ad- 
vice, endorsement, recommendation, of any person she could 
caU friend. She found her rather distant, though indubitably 
interested in the carefully arranged story she told, casting no 
blame on anybody. She had left Mademoiselle's because it was 
time she did something to improve her prospects in the world. 
The good-natured woman was thawing, and would presently 
without a doubt have done for her what she could. But Camilla 
was not lucky this year ; Heaven had a spite against her, as she 
bitterly said to Bianca. When the Orlandi had promised her 
assistance in finding a position, what should happen but that 
the estranged Mathilde and Sophie should run into each other 
at a milliner's, and Sophie should buttonhole Mathilde to tell 
her the long tale of Camilla Bugiani's ingratitude, and the two 

should renew their friendship I 

77 



78 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Camilla was in a sense no better than a child just out of lead- 
ing strings. She did not know how to set to work to advance 
herself. The only persons who could have been of use be- 
longed in the camp of the enemy. 

In order to be doing something, anything, which should 
justify her presence at the family table presided over by the 
babbo, very gloomy in these days, she while waiting for better 
caught up the first work at hand, wrested it from Battistina, 
who was doing it in her heavy fashion, not without smothered 
groans over the many steps it involved, and the steepness of the 
stairs. 

It was one of Battistina^s duties, when there were empty 
rooms in the house, to show these to applicants. To accommo- 
date the family who had newly moved into the first floor, she 
had consented, until the household should be ordered, to furnish 
their repasts. This arrangement they found so convenient that 
they made no haste to change it, and Battistina, with the honest 
poor's sense of sacred obligation to do anything that will af- 
ford gain, kept on fatiguing herself carrying trays of covered 
dishes up the stairs. 

Camilla snatched them out of her hands. One day, instead 
of a large soft middle-aged woman in a shapeless calico, who 
gently lumbered about the table and turned on them mournful 
brown eyes which looked as if they had just wept, there appeared 
before the unprepared first floor people a strong quick neat busi- 
ness-like and handsome young nymph, who passed the dishes 
and played the servant with a haughty modesty which kept them 
well in their places. 

If they had been pleased with the arrangement before, they 
were after this enchanted. Such punctuality, such precision, 
and then such talents for the art of catering as were presently 
developed, definitely discouraged the idea of a change. They 
were urgent to make a lasting compact, and this was effected on 
a different basis, by which Camilla, besides the satisfaction of 
work which entitled her to eat bread with self-respect at her 
father's table, found in her occupation some of the pleasurable 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 79 

excitement of a gambler. The boarders paid a fixed sum; her 
ingenuity found scope in the business of keeping them charmed 
with her management, while seeing how large a profit she could 
make. To this end she went to market early, sporta in hand, 
a sporta made elegant by bunches of worsted cherries, and she 
examined all wares before buying, with hand and nostril as 
often as eye. She knew her venders, was as clever and deter- 
mined as they, the chaffering would not cease until she was con- 
vinced of having brought them down to bald reason. This with- 
out making herself hated, for her mode of doing it was not un- 
genial. 

She would use her fancy to create at small expense an illusion 
of luxury, good labor would be made to take the place of fine 
materials. In overseeing Battistina she learned to cook, and 
Battistina, resistant as rock against hustling, would sometimes 
forgetfully, or perhaps not so forgetfully, address her as Cesira, 
— would slow, soft-spoken Battistina, whom the sight of her 
briskness and the sound of her dictatorial voice infinitely de- 
pressed. 

Antenore too would exclaim sometimes, and not in tones per- 
ceptibly of tender remembrance, **Her mother all overl '* when 
Camilla in her eagerness to achieve some result made home 
livdy. 

Cesira! ... A faded photograph of her, in a straw frame 
bought long ago at a Sunday fair, hung in her daughters^ 
room. It had never been protected by glass, and was now yel- 
low and soiled. Her black eyes, not large but lively, looked 
forth confident of pleasing, beneath a pointed forehead and 
gothic arch of black hair. She wore the expression of one 
whose spirit not the stiffness of best clothes, nor an iron fork at 
the back of her head, nor a mysterious instrument pointed at 
her, shall be allowed to daunt. Expect her to do herself credit, 
to return every knock, to grasp for her share of the prizes. The 
knowledge that she died young lent pathos to the little air she 
had of feeling so competent to hold her own in life. If you 
came to question it on anything but what it freely revealed, 



82 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

stand. But such things happen in Italy. He continued to tend 
shop after it had made him rich^ because shop-tending had 
become his life, and because he believed business did better 
with the master's eye on it. His personal ambition he satisfied 
by giving his children opportunities to rise above him. In 
paying tribute to Camilla he had the effect of knowing he did 
a thing which placed him among people of good taste. 

One morning, there was with him behind the counter a 
woman. Camilla noticed this person primarily from a percep- 
tion that while she affected to be busy with the change in the 
cash-drawer she was watching her. 

A plain-featured woman, limited and domestic and sterling 
looking, flatly middle class, whom she was not surprised to have 
presented, before she left with her provisions, as his wife. Ca- 
milla came away imagining that Pezzanti had praised her to 
his lady, and that the latter had wished to judge for herself. 
Camilla made no question but that she had produced a favorable 
impression. 

The idea that there might be something more to this oc- 
curred to her when, coming up to the first floor people not 
long after at lunch-time, she found Pezzanti's wife with them. 
The caller did not sit at the table but, like one who excuses 
herself on the ground that she has already lunched, sat out- 
side the circle, while keeping up conversation with the eaters. 
They were not acquaintances of any intimacy, thought Ca- 
milla, while she attended to her service. They talked of things 
which everybody knows, no gossip or news of mutual friends. 
It was more, Camilla described it to herself, like a lady coming 
to sell tickets for a lottery of beneficence, or to look up the 
reference of a nursery maid, and all the parties concerned 
behave like civilized and urbane human beings. Yes, or • • • 
The possibility which occurred to her was at that point of 
vagueness certainly interesting, and was strengthened a few 
days later by the Signora Pezzanti calling actually on Battistina 
in Camilla's absence, while Pezzanti, it transpired, had gone to 
see Antenore at the station. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 83 

The first fruit of this was an invitation from the Pezzanti 
to a little family party, which Antenore, with a spark of cheer 
in his eye, such as had not been seen for a long time, decided 
must be accepted. Battistina, no. Her going was out of the 
question, she had nothing to wear and never anything to say. 
The speaker neglected to add that strong dray-horses would 
have been necessary to drag her there. He, Antenore, would 
be busy that evening at the station, but the daughters should 
go under the escort of their young brother, who must, whether 
he liked it or not, leave them at the door, and their father 
would come late and bring them home. 

This was exciting, this was delightful. A reunion for pleas- 
ure, with a little dancing, no doubt, and a supper, in the house 
of the well-to-do Pezzanti, those worthy people who so frankly 
desired their better acquaintance. As for^ dress, that was not 
necessary at their age, Antenore said. A flower in the hair, and 
a girl clothed in her modesty looked finer than ladies of the 
world in their paint and pearls. 

He was right, they did look nice, in their serviceable dark 
dresses, which they turned in at the neck, edging that simple 
V with a bit of Bezia's white pizzo. 

Bianca was in a stew of joy; Camilla seemed to her super- 
naturally calm, but Camilla always took the best that came 
as if she were used to something better. 

^^ Oh, make me beautiful I ^' Bianca begged on that evening, 
*^do my hair for me, e dacd un po* di garhvnol" And Ca- 
milla conscientiously put all her skill into achieving this re- 
sult, coercing the abundant tresses into a tidy, fashionable struc- 
ture, and fastening the flower, after many essays, in the most 
becoming nestling-place. 

Bianca, who had been a pretty child, could not be called 
pretty now, but thought nothing of it. Who was one, to have 
aspirations after beauty? She was short and high-shouldered, 
Antenore's wide mouth made no very fortunate combination with 
a reduced and careless rendering of Cesira^s nose. But she 
was healthy and kind, warm with youth and simple-minded 



84 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

gaiety^ and looked at you from big brown eyes which frankly 
gave away her fondness for ease and holidays and gossip. 

Camilla could not go to this parly carefree as did Bianca 
who, untroubled by the least shyness, was only looking for an 
evening^s rapturous enjoyment. The very fact that this step 
upwards gave hint of opening new prospects, brought, along 
with general elation, a point of anxiety oyer the unknown be- 
hind the door. 

The Pezzanti occupied the top-floor of the house in which 
ihey had their shop. It was comfortable, though not as rich 
as their means woidd have warranted; they sensibly continued 
with the old familiar things. But the tall candlesticks of 
many branches, which from marble-topped consoles spread their 
light over the scene doubled in the mirrors behind them, gilded 
a far from displeasing interior, if they did bring out much 
Berlin wool work introduced into the upholstery, and comer 
what-nots encumbered with curiosities not very curious. 

A sprinkling of guests was in the ample salotto when our 
young ladies arrived. Signora Pezzanti, in her black silk and 
gold watch-chain, with studious geniality greeted them, and 
Pezzanti was full of compliment. Their daughter Albertina, in 
her pink cashmere, was presented; then their son Oreste, in a 
light vest, a flower at his button-hole. While he was bringing 
his heels together and bowing, hand on heart, Camilla was 
asking herself where she had seen him before . . . She knew. 
Downstairs in the shop. More than once he had come in 
while she was there, and she had supposed him to be a purchaser 
waiting for his turn. She had been aware of him looking at 
her, but she was used to that way of men. At the prolonged 
gaze he now gave her, she imderstood all, and a mixture of 
gratification and alarm was behind the eyes which she made 
quietly surprised and just socially pleased. 

A very decent young man ... of his class. He looked like 
what he was, she thought, foundation of grocer, superstructure 
of advocate. He was not beautiful, but, satisfied that he was 
not ugly either, he saw jio reason for humility. The con- 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 86 

sciousness of advantages which^ having heard them vaunted by 
father and mother^ he prized at their valuation^ gave him an 
effect of assurance, still short of fataousness, not unnatural 
or altogether displeasing in an idolized only son. 

Camilla accepted a seat beside her hostess, on a sofa of black 
walnut and maroon velvet, and Oreste seating himself near, 
eagerly engaged her in conversation. Their respective tastes, 
they discussed largely, recognizing each other at once as well 
educated people, he, however, in only one language . . . and 
a half, she in five. '^You have no doubt read L'Assedio di 
Firenzef What did you think of it? Guerrazzi, it seems to 
me . . .'' etc. It was lucky for Bianca that she formed part 
of a group who had not risen above the trades-people stratum, 
good plebeian cousins, who had not read I/Assedio di Firenze, 
and were interested in hearing of such things as First of April 
and other jokes which girls played on one another in a hat- 
shop, and content to narrate similar scherzi on their side. 

The guests all told were a score or so, relatives and neighbors, 
and the party had much simple brio. After parlor-games till 
all had had enough of them, chairs and ottomans were pushed 
to the wall, and the floor was cleared for dancing. 

Oreste, who had been openly assiduous at Camilla's side all 
evening, offered his arm for the first dance, a polka, which the 
daughter of the house played on the upright piano between 
the windows. Camilla plainly felt a quality of ecstasy in the 
embrace of the arm at her waist, the pressure of the imgloved 
hand which clasped her bare hand and sawed the air with it. 
She knew she had been brilliant in conversation and at the 
games. She was supremely aware of her charm. But the 
familiarity of that breath of her partner's touching her face 
so closely was not to be endurecl^ and after a few turns she 
desired to stop. It may here be said that Camilla was not 
fond of dancing, could not in the young exhilaration of motion 
forget all else, like Bianca, her pupil, who knew no wilder joy 
than prancing through a strenuous Italian waltz. 

Her cavalier looked disappointed, certainly not with her per- 



86 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

formance, — though the truth was she did not excel in an art 
wliieh requires a strong feeling for rhythm, — but that she should 
desire to leave oflE. More than ever disappointed, when before 
the next dance she escaped from him, and insisted upon re- 
lieving Albertina at the piano. The book of dance-music was 
easy readings and she felt happier, much, drumming for the 
others and keeping her charming person to herself. 

Oreste, in compliment to her, had chosen her sister to dance 
with. Glancing over her shoulder she saw them pass, Bianca 
all teeth, smiling from ear to ear, her chin forgetfully pressed 
to the man^s arm. Was her sister more vulgar than the rest? 
Camilla wondered, and tried to think that no one in the present 
company was likely to find her anything out of the way. 

Pezzanti would now and then warn the dancers not to dance 
so hard, or so many at once. Lightly, lightly, like this, look, 
on tiptoe! A quadrille was suggested, as less threatening to 
the third storey flooring. Camilla turned on her screw-stool at 
the mad laughter beating about her ears, to see how in spite of 
Oreste's directions, shouted in good Florentine French, — 
Ghaine des dames! En avant quatret Chassez croisezi — 
they had got in a ludicrous muddle. Bianca's laugh rang forth 
more uncontrolled than any. Bianca was in Paradise, there 
was no doubt, her face shone like a lamp. 

Camilla smiled just from the tips of her lips, feeling her- 
self a stranger in thi^ scene, and at that moment, cool and 
composed, looking like one. After the dancers had fallen into 
their seats, she prudently remained at the piano, and to show 
her determination not to move, continued doing soft casual 
arpeggios. 

Oreste came and leaned against the instrument, mopping 
his forehead. His mouth was still distended with the half- 
unwilling laughter of that foolish frolic into which the grande 
chaine had turned, and he panted a little. She noticed that 
his short teeth were set in red gums, whereas gums of the right 
sort were shell-pink, like her own. And his gums showed too 
much. That anybody should perspire so freely, create a moist 



THE TBTJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 87 

stmosphere aroimd him, have hie bands torn red and pulp;, hie 
Teiss Bwell, with heat I . . . 

Me&nwhile, still doing stra; arpeggios, she was politely look- 
ing up at Mm, and he was telling her that bad she danced 
the last contradanza with him, had there been jast one person 
besides himself knowing the figures and setting the example, 
they would have come to no snch final confusion. While he ran 
on, her lifted eye — not large, but bright, and incomparably 
set, — was quietly perusing his features, — so rightly adapted 
to their uses, eagerly-seeing dark warm eye, eagerly breathii^ 
nose, eagerly talking month, fiushed skin and damp black hair 
bathed with normal perspiration, — a perfect human specimen, 
his father and mother had deemed him, from the hour when they 
heard with such r^ef that the firstborn had come into the 
world with no deformity, no blemish. Camilla while perusing 
Mb features was imaginatively applying to Oreste a t^ She 
had read the autobiography of a certain noble poet, and fancied 
much the anecdote how he with a ponderous candlestick felled 
a hair-dreeser who had pulled one of bis noble hairs, then rec- 
ognizing his fault slept with Mb door unlocked, so as to give 
the injured man a chance for retaliation. Splendidly aristo- 
cratic, the whole story. Would Create have been capable of the 
one thing or the other? 

When imagination tried to see Oreste in that part, reason 
simply gamboled from it. The green eye expressed, hut too 
mbtly for him to read, that he had been judged. The moment 
after, wMle he still talked and she appeared to listen, she was 
holding him up for comparison beside Qiulio. Of that old fiame 
there was left in her heart only a heap of cold ashes. Little fal- 
lacious Ginlio, Btamped with gentility from crown to sole, how 
impossible he made this Oreste look, so much more honest a 
man than himself, who now begged for the next dance. . . ■ 
She could not be allowed, too amiable by far, lu' s-ai(l 
sacrifice herself any longer for the rest Each in liis 
Albertina would now play for them, not so beaut if u" 
Bfill well enongh to dance by. Come I He crooke'^ 



88 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

for her. She did not interrupt her subdued playing, she shook 
her head with a pensive and graceful movement, and with sea- 
cool eyes upon his heated face, " A thousand thanks, no,^' she 
said, "you will excuse me, I do not wish to perspire/' 

There was nothing in this to upset a good Italian, and he 
appreciated the point of view of a dainty and fastidious beauty, 
who under significant circumstances wishes to appear at her 
best After merely urging, ** But we could ask for a mazurka ! '* 
he desisted, his desire for dancing dropping dead, and as if 
struck by a thought excused himself from her side. After a 
moment, palpably at his suggestion, the hostess came to ask 
Camilla if she would not favor them with a pezzo. 

** Oh, but it is so long since I have touched the piano I '* she 
demurred. At the same time she spread her hands tentatively 
over the keys, and found them falling into the notes of the 
old Soupirs. '* If I come to grief in the middle,** she turned 
to the company with an amiable laugh, **be indulgent! — 
Compatitemi e rispettatemil ** she added, in the formula of the 
old-fashioned comedian at the fall of the curtain. 

Silence grew and Camilla played, casting such glamour on 
the act by the air with which she went through the gestures of 
great virtuosi, that almost to a man her audience thought the 
performance remarkable. 

Before the end of the piece her fingers began to fumble ; she 
persisted a moment, trying to get back the thread of the thing, 
then abruptly, with a pretty toss of her head, plunged into 
the opening of a polonaise by Chopin. After a few passages 
of this, memory failing again, she with a laugh toward the audi- 
ence took up an old waltz of Arditi's, well known to all, 
which she brought brilliantly to the closing chord, then jumped 
up and left the piano amid loud hand-clapping. 

Pezzanti came to her with a beaming, **Braval Braval** 
A circle formed around her, compliments rained. She was the 
center of a little court, loudest among whom Oreste, whose 
face clearly indicated to what an extent he made her triumph 
his own. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 89 

The magical word ** refreshments *' started a moyement to- 
ward the next room. Oreste gallantly crooked his arm once 
more for Camilla. 

The supper was substantial and rich^ was all that the supper 
of grocers should he, cold meats and galantine^ a mounted 
piece, all the delicacies and specialties. 

Before the end Antenore arrived, straight, he said, from work, 
in his uniform with its bit of gold lace, which he begged the 
hostess to excuse. He had washed, though, his daughters saw, 
his collar looked brushed, and his beard freshly combed. Ca- 
milla had dreaded his arrival, a little, but soon saw that there 
was no occasion. Antenore was doing the part he had decided 
upon, with tact and talent, a part he had not played at home for 
many a day. He was the good-humored man, spiced with 
mother-wit, the good father, modestly proud of his daughters 
and his success in making of them, at the cost of many sacrifices, 
such rare pearls. The air of fatigue of a man who overdoes 
it in the matter of work for his family's sake sat interestingly 
upon him. His talk was with Pezzanti chiefly, while he plied a 
business-like fork, for his part demanded that he should not 
dissemble the appetite of the good-humored, unaffected natural 
man. 

He did not drop his part after they left, but all the way 
home was the good-humored man, the kind father. 

** Ah, if God please,** he said, as he stood waiting before his 
own house door while Bianca fitted the great key to it, "if 
God please there will be a little rest from care in old age . . .** 
he bared his head to look up at the midnight stars, "yes, if 
God please 1** 



CHAPTER IX 

IT was two days later that Antenore sitting down to dinner 
waived the iiasco of common vintage and tossed a piece of 
silver before Olindo with the words, "Eiin to the cantina, 
Olindo, and buy a bottle of the right sort. To-day we cele- 
brate/' 

Olindo had but recently emerged from a dreadful undis- 
ciplined age of playing with bad boys on the street, when 
supported by his father's preference for him he had been a 
little monster of insolence toward the femmine of the family, 
held cheap by him in imitation of his parent. Now, having 
been set to work under a stern old gardener, to learn his art, 
he had as if by some miracle gained a little sense, sobered 
down, and become just possible to live with. He jumped up 
with alacrity, and grabbing the money hastened off. 

Antenore audibly supped his soup, looking the while like one 
full of an agreeable secret. Battistina said nothing, because 
that was her way, and Bianca, whose way it was not, held 
herself in, because she felt she must not spoil the babbo's 
climax. But her eyes danced. Camilla introduced her soup 
into her mouth without a sound, spoonful after spoonful, de- 
liberately and industriously, till her plate was empty. Her 
hands were cold and the muscles of her jaw felt stiff. 

The bottle arrived. "Here, the glasses!** spoke Antenore, 
and carefully half filled each of them with the more precious 
thicker liquid. His manner was full of a radiant importance. 
*^We drink to the nuptials of Camilla 1'' he announced, with 
all due impressiveness. 

Bianca gave a jubilant shout and raised her glass to knock 

90 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 91 

it against the others. Battistina held up hers and nodded to 
her great-niece with a spreading congratulatory smile. "The 
devil I The devil I ^' cried Olindo merrily in his excitement^ 
and jumped to his feet, glass in hand. 

Camilla sat unlooking and apparently deaf^ her hand curled 
about the base of her glass, which she turned round and round 
on the table-cloth, without motion to taste it. 

Antenore fixed his eyes upon her, to study the outward symp- 
toms of the emotion of joy, the passion of shyness, which kept 
the young girl silent. 
"WeU?^' he asked. 

She looked up, moistened her lips and stretched them in 
a pale smile. " Drink to my nuptiids, by all means, since the 
wine is poured. My nuptials shall come about as God pleases. 
But if your meaning is that the Pezzanti have desired my hand for 
their son and you have accepted their proposal, I am sorry, 
father, for we shall appear badly when you retract your word.*' 
It was with Antenore's face as with an elastic mask which 
has been stretched from side to side and which, released, settles 
back into straight and narrow lines. "What in the name of 
God is this?*' 
"You should have first asked me, father.*' 
"I am asking you what the meaning is of this." 
"And I am telling you. The young man, excellent, in- 
structed, mannerly, perhene, in spite of all these qualities, is 
not to my taste. Non mi va/* 

Antenore took in a wondering chestful of air and blew 
it all stormily out in the question, "But what ails you, 
madwoman ? ** 

"Ifothing. I am made like this." The voice was small 
but set. 
" And you think it is enough, just to tell me that? " 
"I know not what you may need to convince yoa*^ 
" You set my paternal authority at defiance? ** 
"I have always been a respectful daughter. But in this 
matter, I warn you, I shall not obey." 



92 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" This passes the bounds of what is permitted I Will yon tell 
me^ snaturata, what yon have got in your head, that makes yon 
determined to refuse this astonishing opportunity for happiness? 
What have yon ever hoped that equals this? Oo! Qol Get 
on your knees and praise Ood, foolish girl, for the fortune 
befalling you. To marry into such a family, who will take 
you without portion I Have you thought of that? That I 
have no portion to give you, and that no family of any stand- 
ing will think of you without it? Here is the one and last 
chance of your life, — for you are not so young, yon know, 
^y gii*l> — c^d you tell me that the party, a thousand times 
too good for you, is not to your taste. What species of bad 
joke is this, Camilla?'* 

"Father, I was never more serious. It would save time 
that you should understand it at once.*' 

" But — but — but what have you against that ottimo young 
man, will you tell me? Handsome, cultivated, rich, and fool- 
ishly enamored of you, even on such brief acquaintance, his 
parents tell me. Those indulgent people are giving you to 
him in their great affection, though they surely might have 
hoped for a better alliance. Presently, Ids studies completed, 
he will be an advocate, a position in life fit to satisfy the 
proudest. Camilla, this sudden caprice, this grasshopper in the 
head, does not deserve to be considered seriously! 

" I am sorry, it is no caprice, no grasshopper.^ 

*^I will tell you another thing. You, capricious, obstinate, 
imgrateful and worthless, have in spite of all made the con- 
quest of those good people, the father and mother. Wishing to 
marry their son early, thinking it for his good and happiness, 
they had their eyes open for a wife, and seeing you, with your 
practical ways, economy, industry, order, combined with certain 
attractions of person fit to take the eye of youth, they had de- 
cided upon you before ever their son saw you. And did he 
refuse his parents' choice?'' 

" Father, if you please, let us say no more about it. Tanto, 
it will make no difference how long we talk." 






THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 93 

"And yon think this is to he the end, do you?'* he asked, 
grinding his teeth and rolling an ominous eye. 

Camilla got up with a suddenness that denoted rising temper, 
oaught as an infection from him. " The end for this time, at 
all events,^^ she said quietly. " I am going to my room. Good- 
night to everybody." 

She made for tiie door, biit Antenore before she had quite 
escaped caught her arm. 

"Who is it?*' he asked, hurting her by his grasp as much 
as he could. " Who is the other? Whom have you got in your 
head, impudent hussy? When a marriageable girl refuses the 
husband her family find for her it is easy to imagine why.'' 

"Must I invent a confession to avoid having my arm 
broken ? '' At a vicious twist he gave her, she startled him by 
an even more vicious scream, a cry loud enough to attract the 
attention of passers. " Let me go I Let me go I '' He dropped 
her, scared. "I will appeal to Pezzanti, the father, who will 
have the justice to wish me protected against brutality such 
as this I'' 

^^ Ah, child of Hell, might I but make you into tiny little 
pieces! Qo, go to your room, and there reflect upon the 
monstrosity of this refusal, the black ingratitude to me who 
since your birth have labored for your welfare, and am now 
to appear before these brave people like a hurattino who has 
not the say in his own family. Beflect also upon the future, 
ask yourself what comfort or sweetness you can hope to have 
from your days henceforth, spent in the vicinity of a justly 
incensed and offended father.'' 

Camilla went to her room with these words echoing in her 
brain, and a realistic picture before her of what the days 
ahead would be. She nevertheless sat down at once to put 
all beyond doubt and discussion by herself writing to Pezzanti, 
the father. A delicate and di£Scult task, for she literally had 
no case to show. She took the line of flattering him by pro- 
fessing great esteem for his character, regard for his person, 
and confidence that he would understand. Then, because there 



94 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

was nothing for him to understand, she artfully suggested 
mysterious reasons for her refusal, with which simple per- 
sonal horror of his estimable son had nothing to do. He 
might gather that she felt a secret vocation for conventual lif e, 
or that some unhappy attachment, ideal, exalted, impossible of 
* satisfaction, determined her to eschew marriage. His chivalry 
would be roused, she hoped, by the fact of a beautiful girl in 
trouble appealing to his good feeling even against his own in- 
terests. As to these, really, she had the sense to see that the 
Pezzanti could not anticipate any such difficulty in finding a 
suitable sposa for Oreste as need unduly embitter them against 
her. 

Next day she turned with a sigh to make her petty purchases 
at a different pizzicheria, a vexation, for there was not another 
in Florence so good as Pezzanti's. 

Antenore coming home to dinner with a brow of gloom 
said not a word to anybody until the end of the meal. Then, 
as Camilla was noiselessly leaving the table, ^^I went to see 
Pezzanti to-day,*' he detained her, his voice was harsh with 
concentrated bitterness. " I was going to say to him that you 
were not like other girls, and that we must give you a little 
time to make up your mind. He shut my mouth by telling 
me he had received your answer in writing, and so — punto e 
basta. They withdraw their request and do not doubt that 
Oreste will find another whom he likes just as well. So the 
matter is closed. And you — *^ he was solemnly and tragically 
addressing himself, *^poor overburdened, hard-driven and 
broken-winded ass, drag your load, waste your forces, sweat, 
strain, wheeze, pant, agonize, make up your mind that there 
is never to be respite, no rest in old age, no consolation from 
the children for whose sake you have laid yourself in four. 
Prom them only contempt for your wishes, rebellion, hardness, 
ingratitude. What you have to look forward to is just, at the 
end of a life of labor and sacrifice, a ditch in which to grunt 
forth the ghost ! Ah — porca miseria! " he ended, with all the 
bitter fury of his heart, and broke into unmanly weeping. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 96 

There was awed silence in the family, shocked hy this direct 
assault upon their simplest human feelings. Camilla, breathing 
short, went to the head of the table where he sat, head heaving 
between his hands. She watched him a moment, each of his 
noisy sobs reverberating in her heart. She laid a hand on his 
shoulder and her voice when she spoke shook. " If you believe 
that to grieve you costs me nothhig, you know me not . . .^' 
He looked up with a gleam of expectation in his reddened eyes. 
She shook her head and took away her hand. ^^ I don't know 
how to make you understand that I can do no differently.'* 

**Ah, it is pride, I can see it written all over you. Don't 
imagine me incapable of understanding. What is there to 
understand? I know it is plain pride. What I cannot under- 
stand is that any woman's pride should not be satisfied by this 
offer. What more could a girl ask? What dreams have you 
in that empty pumpkin of yours? Has the education I have 
afforded you among girls of the first families so turned your 
head that only a marquis will do? But Oreste has as good a 
chance as another of having himself made a CavcUiere one day I 
Will you tell me, Camilla, where you get that infernal pride? 
Not from me, of a certainty I My pride is of the good kind, 
but y6u, your pride consists in despising honest people. Go, 
go, heart you have none, or would you, knowing all your 
miserable father's great disappointments, would you refuse, 
when you have at last the opportunity to reward him a little 
for his patience all those years when he allowed you to live in 
luxury, away from the home that needed your work? Think 
of that, wretched daughter! And then, too, nothing came of 
it all! Your mighty protector — ah, hirbantel — vanishes me 
into thin air! And your blessed education proves a curse, 
making you rebellious to your father's legitimate will!" 

Camilla did not dare to leave this time. She let him go on 
and on working upon her feelings, now with pleading, now 
with scolding, till something inside her yielded from very 
weariness, and she nervously wept. But Antenore had to find 
out that such tears bore no relation to a change of purpose. 



96 THE TBXJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Bianca was sympathetic, though she could see no reason on 
Camilla's side. The good arguments were all the babbo's. But 
she could not blame any one for refusing to do what went so 
against the grain. It was a great mystery why Camilla should 
not clutch her incredible prize, and go mad with joy. 

Camilla, the third night after that festive xmcorking of the 
bottle which was the beginning of sorrows, had taken the op- 
portunity to slip from the dining-room in a pause of Antenore's 
envenomed brontoleria, and reaching the bedroom had sat down, 
flimg her arm over the back of the chair, and propped her head 
with her hand. Looking ahead through the fringe of her black 
hair, and mentally seeing an interminable series of family meals 
such as she had just sat through, she wondered how the spirit 
could stand it. Antenore would return to the subject every 
day, every day, no hope of anything diflferent. 

She had been considering this with appalled eyes for perhaps 
half an hour, the thought of cutting short the unpleasantness 
by retracting her refusal never once crossing her mind, when she 
heard sounds of Bianca arriving, Bianca weeping. 

So, he had harped on the wretchedness of his life, the in- 
gratitude of his children, until he had reduced Bianca to howls 
of grief. Camilla's jaws locked. 

Bianca threw herself disconsolately on the bed, weeping like a 
Magdalen, and Camilla began softly to weep too, for there 
seemed nothing else to do in the forlomness of the prospect 
to-night, and the heart did feel physically lighter after a good 
cry. But if one held out long enough things changed and 
brightened, this helpful theory was knit into Camilla's 
bones. 

At a louder wail from Bianca she halted in her own weep- 
ing to ask, struck, *^But what have you to weep over so im- 
moderately, after all ? It is I, it seems to me, who have reason 
to weep. It is with me he has it." 

" Ah, you, you think all the troubles are yours ! " 
Bianca got out between violent hiccoughs, and revealed her face 
one sop of tears, " but I have my troubles, too. Imagine this. 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 97 

Babbo to-day, since you had written to the Pezzanti that you 
would not marry Oreste^ went to them and offered me in your 
place, and . . . and they wouldn't hear of itl He told me to 
mortify me I He scolded as if it had been my fault. Ah, we 
are two infelidl It is just as bad for me because I can't as 
for you because you won't 1*' 

It seemed as if things could not be much more unpleasant, 
when Antenore had an idea which, carried out, made the time 
gone before look by comparison decently contented. He in- 
yented taking everybody's little private savings and placing 
them in the Cassa di Risparmio, in his own name naturally, — 
head of the family 1 — as a provision against the future. 

Some difficulty he had with Camilla, but he finally, after say- 
ing the most ingeniously searching things, prevailed. The habit 
of obedience to him and fear of him was still strong upon her. 
It was true, even as he said, that he had given her bread for 
many years. If she openly defied his will at every pointy 
what right had she after all beneath his roof? This he made 
her feel, and astutely accompanied the sullen girl to her room^ 
to see with his own eyes that she took the whole gruzzolo from 
its hiding. 

With Battistina alone he succeeded not at alL She said 
little, but she gave less. She squarely seated herself, as it 
were, upon her treasure, calm monument of flesh, and silently 
defied him to get her off it. No amount of talking moved 
that wise person. 

Camilla for once went about her work listlessly tiiat day. 
What was the use of toil and forethought? Oh, bitterly she re- 
gretted not having bought herself a drees while she could. 
She had been waiting to get a really beautiful one. She felt 
but a slight renewal of interest when she had bethought her- 
self that it would be possible to make a second profit secretly 
off the first. But it would be so trifiing as hardly to give the 
game point. She decided that the babbo should not again 
succeed so easily. She had been caught unfortified. Another 



98 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

time she would flatly refuse, and when it came to it they 
should see what happened. 

Latent antagonism there had always been between Camilla 
and 4^tenore. Now, feeling that in truth she had injured him, 
and that there was reason in his complaints, — for she looked 
at the matter as he did; given the circumstances, that was the 
way one behaved, — she steeled herself to endure with patience 
the dreadf ulness of the times which by f ortime had fallen to her, 
until affairs, as they do, should take a new turn, until. Antenore 
possibly should tire of that noisomely tedious harp he strummed 
so persistently for his family's benefit. Whatever the tempta- 
tion to talk back, and it was often powerful, she resisted it, 
reflecting that to yield would but prolong the bad days. But 
as she sat, pale and silent, and his dismal soliloquies spim 
themselves out in her hearing, she sometimes felt the native 
antagonism turning into such lively hate as lusted after the 
satisfaction of throwing at his wagging beard, one thing after 
the other, aU there was on the table, crashing plates, water- 
bottle, wine-flask, knives, forks, spoons, and finally overturning 
the table on top of him, like an extinguisher. Once or twice 
she sprang to her feet, and clasping her head rushed from the 
room like a hurricane, having felt that in a moment more there 
might be murder. 

She wept nightly because the tension to her nerves had been 
so great, and because she was young, and the road stretched 
ahead without one bright spot, and all looked so desperate. 

Her pride, her evil and insane pride, that was Antenore's 
favorite theme. But if in some lurking comer of his mind 
he thought he might weary her endurance or break her will, 
and, Oreste not being yet plighted to another, still conduct the 
matter of the marriage to a satisfactory end, it was surely 
because he did not rightly know his Camilla, nor have any 
apprehension of the fact that, could he have utterly destroyed 
the pride to which he laid her wrong-headedness, the same 
obstinacy would have stood firm, to save her from the un- 
speakable profanation which to her, tinctured through every 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 99 

fiber with dreams of dignity and glory, the embrace of Oreste 
Pezzanti represented. The contact of absolute vulgarity I No, 
had Antenore but known it, his Camilla would have suffered 
as many tortures as did Beatrice Cenci, before submitting to 
matrimony with that honest youth of the red gums and low 
horizons of life. It was her peculiar virtue. Something of 
his own futility in argument against her Antenore very likely 
felt, and it was vexation against his impotence that made him 
such a bore. 

When memories of that period rose to Camilla's mind in 
afterdays,' — which was not often, she preferred to forget, — 
something approximating nausea would sometimes invade her 
imagination. It had all been so dully, inelegantly miserable, ex- 
istence BO sordid and low. Antenore keeping it up day after 
day, the lament that his children afforded him no consolation, — 
he never considered the amount of consolation he was affording 
his children. He would move himself to tears by the picture 
he drew of his wrongs, then blow his nose like a trumpet into a 
colored handkerchief. And all the while he was not disagree- 
able with outsiders; he was considered a good-humored com- 
panion at the railway station, an official faithful in duty and 
pleasant to deal with. 

Some favoritism he still showed Olindo, but Olindo was prov- 
ing a disappointment, and was duly reproached. He did not 
love his progenitor's society, he got away from it as often as 
he could, offering the most patently mendacious excuses. He 
was beginning, a bad sign, to care how he looked, to drag im- 
portantly at the few soft dark hairs forming a circumflex 
accent above his pouting mouth, to wear his hat, the style 
called a lobbia, at an angle he judged becoming, to wax his 
shoes and desire a clean shirt. His manners with the women 
folk were gentler. The girls could see, now that he was no 
longer utterly hateful at home, that their young brother had 
an engaging eye. 

Bianca herself, in spite of the affection one inevitably felt 
for her, did something toward darkening the picture of that 



^rt ir^ •f>>' 



33373B 



CHAPTER X 

ONE morning Camilla rose with the determination, since 
things would not change apparently of themselves, to 
change them. Out of her nature she had drawn new resolve, 
new hope, and out of her brain a plan. 

She asked no one^s advice, but having dressed with great 
care, so that she was neat to a hair and rigidly respectable- 
looking in her modest black, she turned her steps toward Pen- 
sion Marquhardt. 

In the office sat Mademoiselle Elise, secretary and adjutant, 
through whose hands all must pass before reaching the pro- 
prietress, Mrs. Marquhardt. She was thirty-two or three, and a 
Swiss, like so many who have to do with hotels. 

It seemed only reasonable to believe that Mademoiselle EUse 
must have qualities very useful to her employer, for she was not 
prepossessing. Amiable, yes, terms of the utmost politeness 
slid glibly from her tongue, part of the profession in which she 
was perfect. And she was dressed like a person with some pre- 
tension to style and beauty. But her face was of the kind which, 
if you were open to warnings, bade you, to say the least, not hope 
anything from her which she would not find useful to herself. 
Narrow at the temples, so that the eyes were thrown into undue 
proximity, the face lengthened unduly, widening at the jaw 
till it suggested a mean, bad. horse's, — if such a creature is 
imaginable! Her lips, though long, succeeded but poorly in 
covering the phalanx of blank dominoes which were her teeth. 

The office was a charming room. Camilla, preoccupied as she 

was, had from the moment of stepping inside the ground-glass 

front-door breathed with pleasure the atmosphere of order and 

102 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 103 

luxury. Her desire strengthened to have done with a life that 
involved dealing with foods and cookery — she was tired of it, 
body and spirit, — and take up work that would bring her among 
these seemly surroundings. 

Mademoiselle Elise during her afternoon leisure was crochet- 
ing a silk shawL The light came in tinged with green and gold 
from a brownstone cloister giving upon a sunlit garden. A spray 
of olea fragrcms sweetened the whole room. 

** Can I do anything for you? '* she asked, very casually, barely 
looking up, and not thinking necessary to stop in her work, for 
she had guessed at a glance what sort of errand brought the 
young woman in economical black. 

** Yon must very often have among your guests those who de- 
sire lessons in the languages,'^ Camilla began. 

** It is true. But let me inform you at once that we likewise 
have many applications for our patronage from teachers of 
languages.'' 

" I am qualified to teach five,'' Camilla went on, undiscour- 
aged. " Should you care to see my diploma? I could be useful 
in other ways as well. I could go out with foreigners to the 
shops or to the galleries and act as their interpreter or their 
guide." 

^^My dear young lady, this house has been open now for 
twenty years and more." 

** Oh, I know it is a well established and widely known house, 
and has no doubt relations of long standing with many pro- 
fessors. But I," she persevered, with a modest look, "I have 
made a long study of literature, the literature of five nations, 
also of art. And I believe that if you personally found it well 
to give me your good word and assistance I might get a foothold, 
and you would not regret it." 

Mademoiselle Elise looked up, to take in more carefully the 
appearance of this importunate, and saw, it seemed possible, 
some promise, some determining aspect, in the fact that she was 
so uncommonly agreeable to the eye. Also that she was ob- 
viously poor. "And what would there be in it for me?" she 



104 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

put her thoughts into shape with shameless plainness to this 
inconsiderable underling with favors to ask. 

Camilla blushed deeply. " That, you yourself should say.^' 

"What should you demand a lesson?'* 

"But . . . what others receive. I am not certain. Two 
francs, two fifty, three . . .'* 

"Listen. You are not needed here. We have at our com- 
mand all the services we want of the sort you offer. Still, 
if for the sake of making your way in a house where many rich 
people come and go, where money is spent freely, where there are 
opportunities of many kinds, you should see your way to con- 
tenting yourself with one franc a lesson, I would try to provide 
you with so many lessons that you should find it profitable. I am 
not in this business for pleasure, and I am* not interested in 
serving you. The one or two teachers now frequenting the house 
I found here when I took this position a few years ago, and they 
are nothing to me, even as you are nothing. But if you will 
make your interests mine, I will push your interests. That is 
the world. The lessons ^all go on to the bill, and when it is 
settled you shall receive from me a franc for every lesson. If 
that pleases you, well, if not, we need say no more.'* 

Camilla did not answer at once. She stood gazing at Made- 
moiselle Elise as if she were revolving the question. The secre- 
tary bent her attention on her work in apparent indifference. 
The percentage for which she was stipulating, though desirable, 
like any most trifling perquisite, was still not such as to be a 
matter of excitement to her likes. But Camilla was not study- 
ing the question so much as her adversary, she was silently 
measuring herself against Mademoiselle Elise. This hard-vis- 
aged woman with the secure position had the upper hand and 
ti? strong cards now, but wherefore always ? Camilla felt her- 
imaft match somehow fundamentally for this brutal and cynical 
coveri2feer. She could not suppose anybody stronger or cleverer 

The ok or able to keep her indefinitely at a disadvantage, 
was, had f pe, it was her instinctive belief that she should be 
front-door bpe out on top. If once she were established in that 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 105 

house of her desire^ had access to powerful persons whom she 
would win to like her, it seemed to her that she should know 
eyentually how to provide to her satisfaction. The chief thing 
was to get her feet upon the ladder. 

At the very worst, a fi-anc a lesson, if there might he five, six, 
seven lessons a day, would reward her better for her pains than 
she was now rewarded. The work itself did not frighten her. 

" Very well,'* she said, like one who had seen nothing to sur- 
prise her in the other's offer, " if you will be my friend in this, 
the arrangement shall be as you wish.'' 

'^ Part of the arrangement, you understand, is that our agree- 
ment shall remain strictly between ourselves, nobody's affair but 
our own. And I will urge many to take lessons who would not 
otherwise think of it. And as long as you give satisfaction — 
to me, remember, as well as your pupils, I will employ myself 
with what influence I have to advance your interests." 

So the tenants on the first and second storeys were given no- 
tice that they must look for cooks and waitresses. 

Mademoiselle Elise was as good as her word, and Camilla 
daily spent many hours at Pension Marquhardt, the luxurious 
camping place of traveling Americans and the homelike abode 
of wintering pilgrims. Ouests there woke to an unwonted in- 
terest tiiis season in the language of the country, and when the 
teacher attached to the establishment had been turned on them, 
were usually pleased to muddle along with verbs and conversa- 
tion books for the whole time of their stay, so agreeably did this 
young exponent of things Italian, by the lesson she simulta- 
neously gave in the art of manner, make the lesson in Dante's 
tongue go down. 

To be in fine rooms, among well-dressed, fragrant, good- 
humored — usually considerate, even if often stupid — people, 
buoyed Camilla at the first like a draught taken for one's health. 

But growing in her breast week by week was resentment of 
the situation. That the idle Elise should grow fat by her ef- 
forts, and that the amiable people who thought they were com- 
pensating her adequately or even generously for her pains should 



106 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

not know what miserable part she received of the sums intended 
for her ! She burned to kick away the ladder by which she had 
climbed. But she feared to do it. She could not tell how much 
power Elise possessed. Mrs. Marquhardt, kindly and delight- 
ful, but in old age more and more reliant upon others, might, if 
appealed to, simply refuse to have a fuss with one whom she 
found irreplaceable. The sole safe thing was to be silent . . . 
and bide her time. 

But it was bitter, because Camilla was now going on to twenty- 
two, which in Italy was quite old in those days for an unmar- 
ried woman, and it was still not clear how her dreams should be 
brought to pass. She had naturally bethought herself of trying 
to renew Count Mari's interest, and had months before written 
to him, most interestingly, — without result. 

If only she had had greater talent for music ! But Maestrini, 
when asked for the truth, had opened her eyes with regard to her 
performance. If only she had had talent for the stage I But 
though she was a natural actress she could not act as an art, 
with conscious study. Every attempt in school plays had proved 
this. A pity I Oh, a pity I For the only opportunities for 
women, outside of marriage, lay in that field. When the idea oc- 
curred to her that she might after all try, — not all actresses are 
gifted, and beauty has been known to take the place of talent, — 
she remembered all she had heard of the obstacles in the way, and 
was given pause. She had gathered that in order to succeed in 
reaching and keeping the stage, your virtue must pass through 
ordeals by comparison with which it seemed to her decent flesh 
and good bourgeois traditions the old Oiudizii di Dio were trifles. 

A brilliant marriage, that was finally the only solution. That 
some great person should see her and adore, wed and raise her 
to his side. Her dream admitted no thought of elevation through 
any cross-eyed, left-handed arrangement. The consideration of 
the world was her final object. But how should the great per- 
son notice and distinguish her while she moved in walks of life 
where great persons do not occur, and where in her economical 
black she could never hope to catch the eye? There was the 



THE TBITTH ABOUT CAMILLA 107 

dfficulty. She must first of all find occasion and adornments to 
make her conspicuous. To that end she now saved her francs. 

She had come to an understanding with her f ather, of whom 
she found herself growing ever less afraid. A weekly sum she 
paid into the family strongbox, and with that, grumble as he 
would, he must be satisfied. His lamentations had ceased to 
affect her. Growing aware of himself as an old bleating ram 
with a bell at his neck, whom from perpetual hearing nobody 
any longer heeds, Antenore gradually dried up. A tinge of dis- 
comfort came to pertain for him to the presence of his eldest 
child, that strong, quick person, over whom he had no moral 
power left, — a sentiment partaking almost of the character 
of fear, such as had marked intercourse with his lost Cesira. 
He had long seen himself as a pathetic figure, but when an out- 
sider might with some reason have thought him one, lo, luckily, 
he slid into a different part, new fields took up his thought, 
and he could sit through meal after meal, pleasantly for all, 
without saying a word, or looking particularly discontented. 

Without fear of him now Camilla hoarded her money, gloat- 
ing, and at the same time eating out her heart with spite be- 
cause it might have been so much more but for the nasty cupidity 
of Elise, — Elise, ugly and repulsive as a deathVhead, who 
would do — what despicable thing with her unjust booty ? Place 
it at interest, no doubt, and in time go back to Switzerland, there 
to play the lady. This thought ate into the liver like an ulcer, 
embittering even the vision of those things which her own 
diminished share could buy. 

First of all, she meant to have large pearls for the ears. She 
had priced such, perfect imitations of the precious thing, they 
were not too costly to hope for. She had tried them on before a 
mirror in the shop. They transformed her, those globes of shim- 
mering white, bringing out the warmth and transparency of her 
brunette pallor, making the darkness of her hair more velvety, 
and showing how her teeth could not be outdone in purity. 

With these pearls, and a costume in keeping with them, she 
would contrive an adventure that should set her for some good!}' 



108 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

moment in a high lights follow the Corao perhaps, a mysterions 
stranger, throned amid flowers, and file along with the eleganii, 
Strozzi, Mirafiori, Gherardesca. Or she wonld go to the veglione, 
so masked as to pique every curiosity there, and contrive the 
circumstances which should allow her unforgettable visage for a 
moment to be seen. 

Of the power of her face she could retain little doubt, and of 
her magnetism for that half of the race so weak at the beck of 
beauty. In the street, where men impertinently stared, she 
amused herself sometimes testing her power, for she was not 
afraid of them any more. She would make herself, by some 
mysterious exercise of the will which she herself did not fully 
understand, intensely alluring, and an idle male moth would start 
on the track of the unescorted fair, follow on and on, as long as 
she pleased, then would receive a look which told him so directly 
he was wasting his pains, that he dropped bewildered from pur- 
suit 

In her imagination of that splendid future, which naturally 
contained love along with riches and glory, it was always love 
that she received, love lavished in Arabian Nights' baskets of 
jewels at her feet. All her part was condescension. And this 
was the work of Giulio the inconstant. Never again should a 
man hold her in his hand, to feel and suffer in dependence upon 
him. She would have all the power herself. If ever her heart 
started up in a little warm natural throb at some eye-glance, 
hand-touch, pretty speech, it was with high practicalily quelled. 

She passed Giulio on the street once or twice at this period, 
the prettiest fop in Florence, in his natty blue jacket bordered 
with black fur, his skin-tight breeches and clanking saber. A 
whiff of fame entwined itself about his silver-braided cap, for a 
duel lately fought with a fellow-officer, who had presumed to 
address him in the presence of ladies by his barracks nick-name, 
Bouton de Rose. Nothing stirred in Camilla's heart at sight 
of him, she smiled with pity for her honest ardor of the old dajrs 
and its innocent avowal. 

But with all her contempt, and determination never again to 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 109 

care for a man^ it was of a man after all she was forced to 
dream, and to a man that she must look for deliverance. In her 
poor little feminine horizon there was nothing else to look to. 
Somewhere in the world he drew breath, the indispensable Prince. 
The stars were bringing him hourly nearer. While waiting for 
heaven to help^ she sensibly did what she could to help hersdf . 

In this connection, it became plain to her that Elise, who stood 
between her and full compensation for her labor, must go. That 
was the next step in the game. Elise must go, and Camilla, now 
firmly established at Pension Marquhardt, remain. By what 
machination could this enemy be ousted? That was a subject 
for meditation night and day. Camilla knew much more about 
Elise than the latter suspected, and she conjectured more than 
she knew. She had information calculated, die believed, to turn 
Mrs. Marquhardt against her secretary. But if she made one 
false move she would have dished herself. 

Plots would form in her brain, during nights of wakefulness, 
which in the fever-dispelling dawn looked after all a trifle too 
dark, if not too dangerous. True that Elise was an enemy, and 
against such all means, even calumnies, are fair. Camilla did 
not know why she should hesitate. Merely, she did. 

The thought of an anonymous letter however was coming to 
attract her immensely, vertiginously. She planned this docu- 
ment line for line, but when she had done it she let the matter 
rest, content for the time being with the knowledge of what she 
could do if she would. 



BOOK SECOND 

JOSS OOBDEZ 



CfHAPTEB I 

IF our heroine^ chained to the rock of circumstance^ could by 
any art have got an idea beforehand of the Deliverer, what 
amazement would have been hers ! 

For while she, growing in Florence, cherished the image of 
her Perseus as she hoped him, and supposed him in some gay 
capital filling his days with the elegant pastimes of a European 
noble, the great power that was to be in her existence sat in fact 
at the other end of the world, in the seclusion of a study, where 
wrapped in a comfortable blanket-robe she fabricated romances 
for the delectation of quite mean intelligences. For the figure 
of chief importance in Camilla's fortunes was not even to be a 
mani 

Yes, when Camilla one afternoon walked out with an Amer- 
ican girl whom she at the same time exercised in Italian conversa- 
tion, a scene was enacting in a small New England village of no 
inconsiderable import to the Florentine of the fine eyebrows who 
all undreaming of it went pointing out to her companion such 
historical landmarks as they passed, and prattled of Buondel- 
monti, Pazzi, Donati. 

While Florence lay in great drifts of reddish tiles among her 
hills of olive and cypress, and figs were offered from hawkers' 
baskets, two for the smallest copper coin, New England roofs 
spread silver-gray amid orchards where the apple reddened and 
the air smelled sweet of windfalls. 

In a low-ceiled farmhouse room, faintly odorous of old wood, 
sat destiny's substitute for Camilla's Prince Charming, — a 
large elderly female, soberly penning the fruits of her reflec- 
tions. 

lis 



114 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

On the piazza, out of earshot from her open window, two 
young ladiesy her guests, were talking about her. They swayed 
in old-fashioned rocking-chairs, bathed by the green light of the 
orchard. One of them embroidered a large piece in crewels, the 
other knit an edging with the highest number of linen thread. 
The latter was a small brown person, of mouse-like prettiness 
and timid charm. The worker in crewels, not quite twice her 
size, looked at least ten times more positive. Very good-look- 
ing, she was, on obvious and regular lines, — straight features, 
clear color, strong eyes, — never for a moment reaching beauty. 

It was she who began. "Tell me truly. Miss Morton, how 
does Cousin Hannah seem to you ? '* 

The small person stopped knitting and looked discomforted. 
She had only answered by a hesitating writhe of the brows 
when her companion went on, "For of course you notice a 
change.^* 

Miss Morton looked as if she would like flatly to deny this. 
" Oh, I don^t know . . .'* she stammered, in a tone that mini- 
mized the admission, " Mrs. Northmere strikes me as temporarily 
. . . well . . . just a little tired.'* 

The other shook her head. "I have been here three weeks 
now, taking general charge of things, and I have had a chance 
to see. It's more than tired. Miss Morton. She is not ill, I 
don't mean that, but she is certainly not her former self. It is 
as if some spring in her had weakened. I have no doubt she can 
write as wonderfully as ever, and I see her rise to the occasion 
when there is any real call upon her. But the small affairs of 
the hour, the petty details of daily life, demand a vitality, a con- 
centration, which she is no longer able to furnish. For an in- 
stance of what I mean : she met me when I arrived attired in the 
following, put on evidently just as they came under her hand : 
a blue woolen skirt trimmed with black velvet, a flowered silk 
waist, lavender and green, and over her shoulders a gray knitted 
shawl with a cardinal border. You see the picture 1 " 

She laughed at the remembrance. Miss Morton's politeness 
followed her in her mirth, only to drop it for a troubled earnest- 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 115 

ness. '^ I am sure it will pass ! " she affirmed. ^^ She has always 
been so strong ! I regard this condition as the natural result of 
all that has gone before. When you stop to think. . . . Years of 
dreadfully hard work, always people depending on her ! Thirty 
volumes to show for just about as many years! Then, of a 
sudden, complete release from tension. The fatigue of those 
long years would inevitably show in just the form it has taken. 
All she needs is rest.^' 

'^ That is what I tell her. That is exactly what I keep tell- 
ing her. Miss Morton, you have said the most sensible thing 
there is to be said. I am not intimating that Cousin Hannah 
has not good judgment. Such an idea would of course be 
ridiculous. And yet when her chance came at last to lean back 
on her laurels and rest with a quiet mind, — it is incredible, you 
know, what a successful play brings in by the week, I gasp when 
I see the figures, and Trecairn promises to hold the boards 
simply forever ! — instead of resting like a sensible dear, what 
does Cousin Hannah do ? Packs up and goes abroad, as if there 
were any harder work in the world than travel! And takes 
with her, to burden her still further, Adriance's nurse, of all 
people, poor old coimtry Cassie ! " 

"I think it was particularly nice of her. Miss Northmere. 
Cassie had shared in her anxieties and labors, she wished her to 
share in the rewards. Cassie thought it immensely grand to 

go.'' 
" Well ! she soon got over that. It appears. that her suspicion 

of everything foreign amounted to disease. Cousin Hannah 
had to do everything for herself and for Cassie too. It was Cas- 
sie's homesickness and discontent that finally obliged her to turn 
back.^^ 
" Cassie, of course, is much more a friend than a servant'* 
" Yes, of course. But would nH you think that Cousin Han- 
nah might after this failure be willing to let Europe go for a 
while ? Settle down quietly among the surroundings she is used 
to, where she can have all just as she wants it, and take comfort 
by her own fireside, like other sensible dears of her age? Instead 



114 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

On the piazza, out of earshot from her open window, two 
young ladies, her guests, were talking about her. They swayed 
in old-fashioned rocking-chairs, bathed by the green light of the 
orchard. One of them embroidered a large piece in crewels, the 
other knit an edging with the highest number of linen thread. 
The latter was a small brown person, of mouse-like prettiness 
and timid charm. The worker in crewels, not quite twice her 
size, looked at least ten times more positive. Very good-look- 
ing, she was, on obvious and regular lines, — straight features, 
clear color, strong eyes, — never for a moment reaching beauty. 

It was she who began. "Tell me truly. Miss Morton, how 
does Cousin Hannah seem to you ? '* 

The small person stopped knitting and looked discomforted. 
She had only answered by a hesitating writhe of the brows 
when her companion went on, "For of course you notice a 
change/* 

Miss Morton looked as if she would like flatly to deny this. 
" Oh, I don^t know . . .*' she stammered, in a tone that mini- 
mized the admission, " Mrs. Northmere strikes me as temporarily 
. . . well . . . just a little tired.'' 

The other shook her head. "I have been here three weeks 
now, taking general charge of things, and I have had a chance 
to see. It's more than tired. Miss Morton. She is not ill, I 
don't mean that, but she is certainly not her former self. It is 
as if some spring in her had weakened. I have no doubt she can 
write as wonderfully as ever, and I see her rise to the occasion 
when there is any real call upon her. But the small affairs of 
the hour, the petty details of daily life, demand a vitality, a con- 
centration, which she is no longer able to furnish. For an in- 
stance of what I mean : she met me when I arrived attired in the 
following, put on evidently just as they came under her hand : 
a blue woolen skirt trimmed with black velvet, a flowered silk 
waist, lavender and green, and over her shoulders a gray knitted 
shawl with a cardinal border. You see the picture ! " 

She laughed at the remembrance. Miss Morton's politeness 
followed her in her mirth, only to drop it for a troubled earnest- 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 115 

nese. ^^ I am sure it will pass ! '' she affirmed. ^^ She has always 
been so strong ! I regard this condition as the natural result of 
all that has gone before. When you stop to think. . . . Years of 
dreadfully hard work, always people depending on her 1 Thirty 
volumes to show for just about as many years! Then^ of a 
sudden, complete release from tension. The fatigue of those 
long years would inevitably show in just the form it has taken. 
All she needs is rest.^* 

^^ That is what I tell her. That is exactly what I keep tell- 
ing her. Miss Morton, you have said the most sensible thing 
there is to be said. I am not intimating that Cousin Hannah 
has not good judgment. Such an idea would of course be 
ridiculous. And yet when her chance came at last to lean back 
on her laurels and rest with a quiet mind, — it is incredible, you 
know, what a successful play brings in by the week, I gasp when 
I see the figures, and Trecaim promises to hold tibie boards 
simply forever ! — instead of resting like a sensible dear, what 
does Cousin Hannah do ? Packs up and goes abroad, as if there 
were any harder work in the world than travel! And takes 
with her, to burden her still further, Adriance's nurse, of all 
people, poor old coimtry Cassie ! " 

" I think it was particularly nice of her. Miss Northmere. 
Cassie had shared in her anxieties and labors, she wished her to 
share in the rewards. Cassie thought it immensely grand to 

go." 

" Well ! she soon got over that. It appears. that her suspicion 
of everything foreign amounted to disease. Cousin Hannah 
had to do everything for herself and for Cassie too. It was Cas- 
sie's homesickness and discontent that finally obliged her to turn 
back.'' 
** Cassie, of course, is much more a friend than a servant'* 
^^ Yes, of course. But would n't you think that Cousin Han- 
nah might after this failure be willing to let Europe go for a 
while ? Settle down quietly among the surroundings she is used 
to, where she can have all just as she wants it, and take comfort 
by her own fireside, like other sensible dears of her age? Instead 



118 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

^* But, my dear Miss Northmere, if you can*t go, what is the 
difficulty with her getting some one else ? '* 

" There is a difficulty, dear Miss Morton. You see, she does n't 
want a maid, a maid has to be told what to do. ISTor does she 
want a companion, being particularly well able to entertain her- 
self. Nor is it a friend she wants, you can hardly ask a friend 
to button your boots. What she wants and needs is some one 
like me, — is in fact me, and I can't go, I positively can't.'' 

The resolve it was which lent such firmness to Pauline North- 
mere's tone in speaking the last words, which proved later to 
have been a decisive factor in the career of the young 
woman we know, who before starting out with her pupil that 
same day in Florence might have been seen carefully inking 
her gloves. 

Alice Morton, in spite of all she could say to herself, was 
left miserably uneasy by the forenoon's talk. In a modest, 
self-contained, well-mannered fashion she worshiped Mrs. 
Northmere, and the image conjured- up of her could not be 
laid by repeating that this horribly brisk relative grossly ex- 
aggerated. Affection takes easy alarm. Alice Morton found 
herself wondering rather wildly what they must do about Mrs. 
Northmere. 

The dinner-bell rang. As she took her seat at the table she 
was still full of misgivings. 

A generous and inviting spread, a more numerous company 
than usual. For two strangers, a ministerial-looking old man 
and his daughter, who wore her hair in long curls, had come 
from a distance to pay homage. And a darkly handsome actor 
had run out from town to engage Mrs. Northmere's interest 
if possible in securing for him the part of the Master of Tre- 
cairn, which report said was about to fall empty. Also, Miss 
Green, the village dressmaker, was working at the house that 
day, and dined with the family. 

As Alice looked over at her hostess, where she sat throned 
between the old philosopher and his daughter, and entertained 
her tableful, a sudden uplift was to her spirits. For with Mrs. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 119 

Northmere well in sight, with her Saint Peter's dome of a 
head, her tired bnt reassuring face, the index of a mind as 
nimble as it was cool and capacious, it seemed difficult after all 
to suppose but that the poor love might be trusted to take care 
of herself I 



CHAPTEB II 

CEBTAIN leading facts of Mrs. Northmere's history stood 
revealed in her writings. Not that she had ever, in the 
vulgar sense, put herself into a book. It was the manner of her 
different epochs which spoke. The Mystery of Trecaim, her 
first, perhaps her masterpiece, was read from end to end of the 
English-speaking world. A book as full of plot as of passion, its 
roses very red, its caverns very black, its moonlight double-dis- 
tilled. Hannah Dustin's imagination at twenty was intensely 
reflected in it. But it was followed by no second of the kind. 
A volume of verse was all that came to the hands of a disap- 
pointed publisher during the years of her married happiness. 
Pages warmed by feeling, illumined by a gleam of genius, and 
aptly illustrated by the vivid and vigorous face of the frontis- 
piece. 

The next book under her name might have been written by a 
new person. The springs had dried apparently from which the 
earlier works sprang geyser-like. A widow with debts to pay 
and a son to educate had sat herself down to produce as good 
work as a clever, self-respecting woman could, with a view to 
large and steady sales. Sterling qualities went to the task: 
the observation was just, the spirit edifying, the humor genial, 
but the author limited herself to the consideration of things 
which would interest the average mind. Her books were aimed 
at the domestic circle. 

At one time, — the vogue of her writings had then already 
lasted long, — signs of effort and haste surprisingly marked 
them. A little shrewdness in the critic might have suggested 
the probable coincidence of these with expensive follies of 

120 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 121 

Adriance Northmere's. When the brilliant fellow died^ his 
mother's work was for a time serener. But after the slow fading 
of Innesley, her grandson, at fourteen, its excellent quality was 
more and more tinged with dullness, her publisher finally 
tainted it for the sake of old friendship. Then, when her last 
book had flatly fallen dead, and, withdrawn on her farm, she 
almost seriously spoke of raising chickens, the craze came upon 
theatrical managers for staging arrangements of novels. Mrs. 
Northmere dramatized Trecaim. 

Her publisher, Henry Morton, and Alice his daughter, were 
among the crowd to see Mrs. ISTorthmere off to Europe after 
the magnificent revival of her fame. Morton asked cheer- 
fully when they might look for her next novel. Words could 
hardly render the fun and irony in her glance as she answered 
that they need not look. There should be but one book more. 
She intended for her own entertainment to write her memoirs, 
which work woidd take her the rest of life. 

Alice and her father were again among the group seeing Mrs. 
Northmere off when she left the following year, without Gassie, 
without Pauline, or anybody, to watch over the equipoise of her 
bonnet. As soon as she reached London, she promised Alice, 
she would look for a good English maid, used to travel on the 
Continent. 

After such as were not passengers had been ordered ashore, 
she leaned upon the rail waving her hand to her friends. Alice 
seeing her from that distance got, as one does, a new impression 
of the receding face ; " rugged and balmy,'' were the best words 
she could find for it on the spot. 

Winter found Mrs. Northmere in the City of Lilies. She 
had the big best room at Pension Marquhardt, the white and 
gold room, with the three windows down to the fioor, the noble 
terrace, and the outlook over the garden. 

The charm of Florence laid powerful hold on her. She lux- 
uriously set no limit to her stay. It was in February that her 
joys were interrupted by a cold caught in a glacial church where 
she had forgotten herself reconstructing a period from the 



122 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

faces in a fresco. Miss Parker mixed poultices and beverages 
for her^ Mrs. Marquhardt was assiduous in attentions. But 
the one who did her the best turn was a fellow-guest^ who came 
discreetly to the door to inquire, and thereafter would often slip 
in for an hour, to talk about her daughters, whom she had 
brought abroad for advantages, and about Mr. Jennings, whom 
they had left behind in Newark. 

That Mrs. Northmere felt an interest was shown by her 
thoughtful attention, as well as by a question now and then 
which led to further talk. " It is very good of you,** she would 
sometimes thank her visitor, " to be willing to stand my wheez- 
ing and coughing and blowing my nose.** 

" I think,** she said, when she was allowed to sit up, " since 
the doctor can*t tell me how soon I shall be able to go out, I 
must do something to improve my mind at home. I read French. 
It would be useful to me to so pronounce it that the waiter might 
get at my meaning.** 

Mrs. Jennings hardly allowed her to finish. "I know the 
very thing ! ** she cried. *' Is it possible I have never spoken of 
her? My girls have the most extraordinary teacher ! The mys- 
terious duchess, they call her. You can get her for three francs 
an hour, and I believe you will thank me. This is her day, she 
comes at two. May I bring her in to see you after the lesson ? ** 

So it was that Camilla Bugiani and Mrs. Northmere met. 
Mrs. Northmere sat with a flannel around her Hiroat and her 
knees in a rug, when for the first time the Italian stood before 
her, striking for the something complete if there was nothing 
excessive in her beauty, — her slender erectness, the thick and 
lusterless black of her hair contrasting with the pallor of the 
delicately turned features, eyes the tint of water in a basin of 
jade, not too deep, smile a fiash of pearl. 

She took the edge of the seat indicated to her, and turned 
upon the possible pupil the professional amiability of her smile. 
Mrs. Jennings, by way of introductory praise, told once more her 
girls* miraculous progress. Meanwhile, Mrs. Northmere won- 
dered. For Mrs. Jennings had spent an hour chatting about 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 123 

her daughters* teacher, but to the thing which smote Mrs. North- 
mere she had made no allusion. Miss Bugiani's looks and dis- 
tinguished reserve, the mystery of that thorough-bred air stoop- 
ing to hear irregular verbs, she had enlarged upon. But no hint 
that she saw what roused in Mrs. Northmere a vague motherly 
pain. To the eyes, not a bit sharp-looking, of the old novelist, 
there lay plain in Camilla's face of youth, during that moment 
of first impressions, the trace of the secret things which kept 
the girl awake at night, the gnawing hatred of Elise, the tor- 
ment of ill-paid labor and thwarted desires, the beginning de- 
spair of ever getting on. 

*^ Dear me I No child ought to look like that ! '* said to her- 
self Mrs. Northmere, and then and there arranged for lessons. 

Corinne ou Vltalie was the work she selected to have read 
aloud, that she might accustom her ear to the sound of French. 
Camilla could and did abstract her mind from it. 

Upon arriving she would with the most charmingly managed 
effect of solicitude inquire after the health of her iUve, deli- 
cately rectifying the errors of the reply; and upon leaving she 
would express the hope that Madame would on the morrow be 
better of her toux. But the bundle of flesh and blood and 
sensible clothes sunk in the armchair before her, surmounted 
though it was by a notable head, a face marked by years lived 
to good purpose, and turned upon her with quiet benignity, 
stirred in Camilla, if truth must be told, not one pulse of in- 
terest that was not simulated. Mrs. Northmere represented 
just one franc an hour. The lesson was for self-evident reasons 
to be made as attractive as possible. Foreigners were eccentric, 
it was not worth while giving thought as to why they did as 
they did. Here was one, rich enough to travel with a maid, 
and she didn't even wear silk stockings. 

Until one day when Mrs. Northmere, discovering that Miss 
Bugiani ran home to snatch a hurried bite between two lessons, 
asked her to remain and lunch with her there in the apart- 
ment. A ray of genuine pleasure brightened the girFs face. 
Camilla cared little enough what went into her mouth, but she 



124 ' THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

liked the look of good things on the table to choose from, the 
wing of a chicken in preference to a slice of saiame, white wine 
better than red, bread in golden rolls rather than gray slabs. 
And thin glass, fine damask, polished plate, she liked, — in 
short, luxury. 

She made a really sweet companion for Mrs. Northmere 
that day. Every trick Camilla had ever observed, to judge that 
it looked high-bom, she had adopted. But the young grand 
lady on this occasion was softened by gratitude, and the desire 
to be found pleasant modified the air of habitually expecting . 
deference which thrones on pale high-bom brows. She was 
more than attentive to pass the salt, jump up and ring the 
bell for whatever was needed, plunge to pick up her hostess's 
starched napkin which kept sliding to the floor. And all 
the while she talked in slow clear French, encouraging her 
vis-d,-vis to respond in that language, as if to pay for her 
meal by an extension of the lesson. 

Mrs. Northmere after that kept Camilla to lunch daily, and 
while they ate there was exchange between them of OllendorflE 
question and repartee. But never any word from the teacher 
which might help to a knowledge of her story, circumstances 
at home, family. At the most, stray allusions, dim and rare, 
to the malheiws of her house. 

Mrs. Northmere meanwhile was getting well. She arranged 
the airing prescribed for her so that Camilla might share the 
drive in the commodious victoria. When exercise was in due 
time recommended, there were bits of shopping together, visits 
to monuments, expeditions ending with the mild gaiety of tea 
and cakes at Done/s. It seemed to her that Camilla was 
looking a little less tormented. But it might be her desire 
to have it so which made her imagine this. It is only the 
first glance that is clairvoyant. 

There was no failing to read Camilla's face, however, after 
she had learned that Mrs. Northmere was preparing to leave. 
An expression of, regret was of course due, but the shadow 
of this doud was tragically heavy, and in order to accept it 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 126 

as nnfeigned one needed only to remember all the gratifications 
that would depart along with the free-handed and friendly 
American. 

"You have been most kind to me. Miss Bugiani/' Mrs. 
K'orthmere said at the end of the last lesson; "you have quite 
spoiled me, my dear, attending as you have done all the while 
to my little invalid wants, making my elderly failings and 
forgetfulness of no fatal mischief to others or myself. You 
have been my memory and my feet, and I shall miss you. 
When I was out this morning I bought this little ring which 
stared at me from the showcase . . . No, no, don't thank me, 
child. It is unimportant, its whole point that I thought it 
looked like you. Also, when I was out I stopped at the bank 
and got gold, because I thought it apposite to pay your golden 
services in a medium clean and bright. Now I know just 
what I owe you, and we will count it, then put it back into 
this little purse, which is the kind that belongs with the fine 
old words, 'Take this purse of gold, my child, I have plenty 
more at home.' Twenty, forty, sixty, seventy, eighty, nineiy 
. . . I believe that is correct." 

Camilla with color heightened by a variety of emotions put 
out her hand and drew the shining pieces along the tablecloth, 
as if to gather them in; then with a sudden gesture pushed 
them back and fell away from them, confiict convulsing her 
features. ^ I cannot take them ! " she exclaimed. ** It is^ not 
as you think I" 

*'Yes, my dear?'* 

" The lessons will be on your bill and you will pay them to 
Elise, then I shall get what she allows me." 

''What do you mean?" 

''I am a slave whom she hires out, and imburses the gain 
herself." 

" And your share ? " 

"One franc for every lesson, even if three or four have it 
together and pay in proportion. Oh, she is wicked, wicked. 
She is an incarnate devil, who takes advantage of my need." 



126 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

*'My child, does Mrs. Marquhardt know of this arrange- 
ment?'* 

*^ Oh, no. If Mrs. Marquhardt came to know and to make a 
remark about it to Elise, it would be the worse for me. Mrs. 
Marquhardt could never dispense with Elise, she is too useful, 
and Elise, vile harpy, would revenge herself on me. No, dear 
Mrs. Northmere, you are very kind, but if you should breathe 
a word of this which despair has forced from my lips you 
would be doing me serious injury. I should lose the place 
which affords me bread.'* ' 

"Be sure I shall not mention it. But neither will I join 
with Miss Elise to see you robbed. Take these, my dear, 
which you have more than earned, and when the bill comes 
in I will attend to it. Pas d'histoires, ma belle, isn't that 
the right French? 



99 



Mrs. Marquhardt came that evening for a parting call on 
the distinguished guest. In this day of her success she was 
little more than an influence, a becoming figure-head to the 
establishment which she had built up and others now managed. 
Her commanding aspect and high powdered locks lent to the 
house a tone and with it a popularity which the vulgar efficient 
Brogi, with his purple j'owl, and the mean capable Elise, with 
her eyes too near together, the pair who actually ran things, 
could never have imparted or kept up. 

"Were you not asking me," said Mrs. Marquhardt, turning 
incidentally to Mrs. Jennings who was present, " about a young 
lady who comes here to give lessons in the languages? I have 
inquired, and I learn that she is a graduate from the school 
my girls went to. An excellent school, one couldn't do better 
than send one's daughters there. As for the young lady's 
family, it seems they are rather less than middle class, small 
trades-people, I think, and her education is much above her 
station. She received it through the liberality of the Maris, a 
sort of patrons of the family, who were impressed by the promise 
of the child. Gossip has it . . ." Mrs. Marquhardt bent for- 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 127 

ward and spoke lower, "that Count Man is her father. But 
that, let me warn you . . /' She leaned back again, and spoke 
aloud, while chuckling cosily across her broad bosom, "is not 
the smallest indication of a fact. From the moment that the 
Count paid her school-bills, plenty of people would be certain 
to suppose it. Our Florence is a scandalous little town.'' 

Camilla had not thought to see Mrs. Northmere again. The 
donor of the black pearl, which so constantly drew her eyes 
down to her hand, was on her way southward, she supposed. 
Her heart gave a quick throb when Mrs. Jennings told her that 
Mrs. Northmere wished to see her after the lesson. 

"My child, I have something to propose,'* met Camilla's 
interested ears as she entered the big room again, which she had 
thought to enter no more, " and it is that you should come with 
me to Bome for Easter week. Should you like it, and can you 
arrange with your pupils?" 

Camilla's face was a blank, she could not speak. She had 
never been further than Peretola. What she did was, after a 
moment, to drop on her knees and passionately kiss Mrs. North- 
mere's hand. 

She managed by concentrated force of character to prevail 
upon a dressmaker to keep her seamstresses working far into 
the night, so that a costume might be finished in time to take 
along. Another dress she by furious toil got together herself 
with the help of Bianca and Battistina, an under of cheap 
silk, an over of black net, the silk cut low, the net built high, an 
effective thing if seen from a distance, for instance a box at the 
theater. 

The trunk, bought for a little girl, would not be full after 
she had packed all she owned that was fit to make an appearance 
during the wonderful week in Bome, — Eome, Bome, was it in- 
deed possible? Was it not all a dream? . . . With excited 
eyes and tired bones, she was crumpling newspaper and stuffing it 
in to fill the hollows, when Bianca, who sat mending up a 
Uttle pile of underclothes, — with all good will, but none too 



128 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

neatly, — spoke aloud the conclusion of her reflections. '' In- 
somma, she must be an original, this lady of yours/^ 

Camilla concurred without blink of indecision. ''She is/* 

*' It is not this matter of making me a gift so extravagant/' 
she continued, after a moment spent in defining the thing to 
herself, '*or paying twice over for her lessons. If she is rich 
and I have pleased her, why not, after all? But the truth is 
that when I am with her all the time there are things which 
pass my understanding ! As an example : She is not a miser, 
obviously, but she has articles, for her own use, of a poverty ! A 
poverty! ... A horn comb, my dear, no better than yours or 
mine, a wooden hairbrush, and a little iron buttonhook such as 
you get for nothing. She wears by preference a brooch with 
a piece of hair in the center. She travels with an old shawl 
for her knees . . . but old I Then, she has a maid (who I 
suspect drinks), and all the time this is what you hear: 
* Parker, sit down, you must n't stand.* • * Don't wait in for 
me, Parker, I will dress myself.' * Don't sit up for me, Parker, 
I will undress alone.* * Parker, take the afternoon for your- 
self.' What then is a maid for? . . . And, with a very superior 
intelligence, as she shows at her lessons, the good soul that she 
is will believe anjrthing, and at the same time, always unpre- 
pared, will tell the truth even when it is directly against her 
interests, or when it creates a silly situation. Imagine that 
she told Capineri, of whom she ordered a pair of boots, the 
real time of her departure, to a minute! As a result, if she 
had not put oflE her departure by two whole days, the boots 
would not have come in time, they would have had to be sent 
after her." 

"And she is a celebrity, you say?" 

*'Ye8, it is very curious, but I think there can be no doubt 
about it, from the way people court her. The Consul calls 
on her, and the Anglican minister ; she receives letters by every 
post, many of them containing the request merely for her 
signature. There is a list of twenty books and more by her at 
the back of the Tauchnitz edition — It's nothing you know 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 129 

about, they are just certain volumes. The Jennings family 
were talking about her writings with great enthusiasm and I 
had the curiosity to borrow some of them. I was astonished 
at what can make a literary reputation in their country. Be- 
tween you and me, noiosi, those books were, but noiosi! . . . 
tedious to the point that I could not finish. Pages and pages 
of little unimportant affairs and discourses, not an intrigue, 
not a crime, not a dash of pepper I Things for children, I 
should call them. One, figurati, was of a woman, not at all 
beautiful, who marries a widower, not in the least interesting, 
with six children, and the story is all how she wins the affec- 
tions of these six who at first had opposed the marriage. An- 
other was of a Protestant pastor and his daughter, who after 
the mother dies are so melancholy they decide to go to a 
great city where there is some life. And a beauty, light and 
worldly, just for her amusement tries to ensnare the heart of 
the simple man. She does not succeed, that is all the story. 
I suppose he carried a little volume of the Scriptures over his 
heart, to protect it. That is another thing, Bianca, which sur- 
prises me in these foreigners. Their romanzi are such as I 
have described to you. Then their great religious book, which 
they read from childhood, and which our church does not 
allow us of the laiety, I have had su£5cient curiosity to look 
a little into that too . . . and some of it, I must say, my dear, 
seemed to me far from delicate! — Had I better take this 
along with me?*' She held up a summer dress, very scant 
and simple, of faded ghost-thin yellow batiste. 

" Misericordia! " cried Bianca, " for the week you are going 
to stay, what will you want of that?*' 

** Butsuppose,'* said Camilla, weighing the garment dubiously, 
"suppose I should stay longer?*' And, with the far-sighted 
prudence which often in life stood her in good stead, laid 
it in. 

When Antenore coming home to a house full of excitement 
heard the great news, he at first, beyond asking a question or 



130 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

two, said nothing. He no longer attempted to exercise authority 
over Camilla, and as often as the remembrance recurred of their 
changed relations affec!ed the detachment of one who has 
washed his hands of a bad affair. But his face this time was 
so alive with interest that his reserve in all its grandeur be- 
came pathetic, and Camilla, made gracious by good fortune, sat 
down beside him and told him all about it. 

Thereupon wells of information were unsealed. All he knew 
of Bome — Queen of the World, Eternal City! — he imparted 
to her. Before he had finished, the family one by one had 
di^awn to the table where he sat in his place at the head, and 
with dropped jaws listened to all that about Bome, — aqueducts, 
pontifical ceremonies, sacred geese, dimensions of the Colosseum, 
the evil of priestly politics. 

Camilla's eye, wandering from the subject and pursuing her 
own fancies, — had she not taken tens by the gross for Soman 
history? — moved over the self-forgetful countenances, even 
Pallina's was there, and the knowledge that she in a day or 
two would actually be seeing those wonders of which they all 
could only dream, generated a sentiment in nothing clear but 
the desire to bring home a little present for each, to show she 
had thought of them. 

"This lady of yours," said Antenore on separating for the 
night, " I could be useful to her, I think. If she has a little 
money lying idle, I know a way of so placing it that the usufruct 
would exceed, by so much and so much, what is customary. 
There are wonderful opportunities for those who are in the 
secret. Not a poveraccio like me, to do it with his own money. 
But the rich. You could tell her, Camilla, that the agent is 
a person well known to you, a man of judgment, who has 
looked into this matter with great care.'' 



CHAPTER m 

MOBE than one noticed a charming creature driying in 
the Borghese gardens with her mother, or possibly her 
aunt, the Wednesday of Easter week, at the fashionable hour. 
Something in the whole effect of her caught the eye : her costume, 
a striking light Havana, with applications of broad black 
braid; her hat, a stylish confection to match. And the eye 
once caught was held fast by the face, lovely and proud, yet 
somehow challenging. When the pair had alighted for a cup 
of chocolate, the monocle had been screwed into more than 
one eye turned toward their little table. 

They were now driving on the Pincio, in one of numerous 
shining equipages. 

" Shall we ask him to stop, Camilla?'* came from the older 
lady, as they were passing the point where the view is finest. 
Other carriages had come to a stand there before them. 

** Do you wish to get out, dear Mrs. Northmere ? ** 

^' I do, my dear. Let us walk to the edge over there and 
look off.'* 

They left their carriage, and leaning on the wide stone ledge 
watched the sunset over Bome. 

''Ah, que c'est heau! Que c*est heau!" sighed Camilla sev- 
eral times. Then the silence of lofty enjoyment fell between 
them, souls whom Nature and Ancient History could com- 
pletely absorb. 

When Mrs. Northmere had been thus absorbed for some 
time, and while she might still have been supposed to be musing 
over the wonder of things so mighty perishing, or the equal 
wonder of monuments made with hands lasting so long, the 
view before her eyes had in fact vanished, and through the 

131 



132 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

softened clangor of Boman ehurchbells she was hearing a pen- 
sion-keeper's voice, from which not forty years of Italy had 
been able to eradicate the freebom American inflections, as it 
said within her brain, ** The fault most commonly found with 
them, by us who have no Latin blood, is that they lie. They 
do, my friend, I can't deny it. But you see the temptation, 
in a community where if you are found out nobody honestly 
thinks any the worse of you. For the mean, the malicious 
lie, the lie that injures, is no more common here than at home. 
Turn a candid mind upon the matter, and you will detect in 
the ordinary Italian lie an amiable motive: to make you 
pleased with yourself, or to lend the speaker a more splendid 
aspect in your eyes, or to ease a difiScult situation. I have 
lived among these people forty years, and all I can say is I 
love them. Their faults . . /' Here, at Camilla's murmur- 
ing again, more feelingly, ''Ah, que c'est beau!'* the outlines 
of Piazza del Popolo reasserted themselves. 

The young lady, on her side, seemed to think presently that 
she had looked long enough at scenery, and half turned to 
look at people, unable to restrain the wish that she might have 
known somebody, just somebody, in all that happy carriage 
world. She felt herself a new Camilla, bom five dajrs ago 
when they puffed out of the Florence station, and she for the 
first time in life leaned against the cushions of a first-class 
railway compartment. The river of her blood rolled seeds of 
fire, her brain was a bubbling vat, her spirit rode high on a 
vast vague hope. For the first time in life a deep appetite 
of her nature had attained nourishment, and the bloom of a 
new health warmed and brightened her. 

Seeing two cavalry oflBcers approach, she quietly fell into a 
more becoming attitude, glad to her very essence of the natty 
dolman she wore, the good hat, fresh gloves, high-heeled boots. 
The girl had gallantly laid out all but her last penny on 
clothes. 
\ They passed, talking together, they hardly looked. They were 

used, very likely, to fair faces. OflScers are much sought after. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 133 

women spoil them. And Bome is not poor in beanties. 
With the point of sadness attached to this thought, memory 
warned her that half of her holiday was over. As in brilliant 
June there is a shock in the remembrance that the tide of the 
days has turned, so her heart was struck cold for an instant 
by the picture of herself going home in less than five days 
more, going home just as she had come. She dragged herself 
away from the depression of that thought. Pour days more, 
she had four good rich days ahead. ... As if to gather rose- 
buds while she might, she sent forth her eyes rather wildly to 
grasp all they could, see if opportunity might not be flying. 

^^ Bome, I should think, is about the size of Lowell, Mass./' 
remarked Mrs. Northmere. 

It was Camilla's polite custom to say something when her 
friend spoke, even if the utterance did not strictly demand it. 
Mrs. Northmere therefore turned after a moment to see what 
was engrossing Camilla's attention, and following the line of 
her glance came to a landau drawn up to the curb. Before it, 
two shining bays with chopped tails nervously twitching, on 
its box two straight-backed liveried figures in tall hats with 
silk rosettes, and in its capacious body a matron with her three 
daughters. Bomans, by their profiles, which would have lent 
character to coins. 

Each of the ladies at this moment held a little stick of 
chocolate wrapped in tin foil of a tender color. The mother 
had hers partly peeled and was biting it with handsome teeth 
bared toward a gentleman leaning over the carriage door, with 
whom all, more or less, were talking, while he turned with a 
courtly remark now to this one, now to the other. All those 
fine upper lips, Julia's, Octavia's, Pulvia's, bridged by a fairy- 
faint mustache, were spread in smiles of perhaps slightly forced 
amiability, at speeches very likely rather flat. Prom his ex- 
pression, the individual at the carriage-door was paying compli- 
ments. Not at all young, but very elegant, was this personage. . 
As he smiled at the ladies, there was left of his eyes but a 
gleam of glass between fold on fold of lid. 



134 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

It was he whom Camilla watched, and Mrs. Northmere, 
seeing how completely she was wrapped in the occupation, 
asked no questions, but put on her eyeglasses. 

The man finally raised his hat, and coming round to the 
sidewalk was proceeding on his way, when Camilla darting 
forward stopped him by a hand laid on his arm. She was 
looking up into his face, herself radiant. The visage bent 
toward her in puzzlement was dry, heavily lined, and very 
silent now that the smile for the ladies had gone out of it. 
Like a large new signboard on an old inn, hung the mustache 
over the great-door of his face. 

"Oh, Count Mari, what a fortunate chance!'* Camilla was 
saying, as she sparkled and beamed into his eyes. '^ Don't you 
remember me? I am Camilla. The Camilla whom you placed 
in a school. The little girl who wrote you so many beautiful 
letters . . /' 

A look of intelligence was investing his features, and the 
special smile he kept for the sex again diminished his faded 
eye. **Ah, yes . . . yes,'* he said. 

" I am- in Rome for a few days with a friend. You must 
permit me to make you acquainted. I have the honor, Mrs. 
Northmere, of presenting Count Mari, the friend of my infancy. 
Count, Mrs. Northmere, a very valiant American writer.'* 

" Most happy . . ." He had taken off his hat and stood hold- 
ing it. "It is your first visit? Then I need not say I hope 
you are not finding our capital dull . . ." 

Camilla had started the conversation in French, and Mrs. 
Northmere willingly left it to her, entertained by her liveliness 
in counting off all they had already seen, ruins and master- 
pieces, and the commentary she spun out unconscionably, 
thereby to keep the Count standing longer, after his attitude 
denoted that he was preparing the parting salute. 

"Ah, yes, yes . . ." he said, when his turn came again to 
speak. " Certainly. The antiquities. The antiquities . . . 
Permit me to offer . . ." With a dip of half his person, a 
flourish of the hand, and the smile of a votary, he held out to 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 135 

Mts. Northmere — as if it had been to a favorite parrot, — a 
little stick of chocolate done np in pink f oiL ^* Permit me ! '^ 
he said again^ and drew from his pocket a doccolatina like- 
wise for Camilla. When he thns dropped his head in bowing, 
brown streaks, as of a paint brash, were visible on his lip 
among the hairs of his mustache. 

*'We are at Hotel Quirinale,'* Camilla reminded him when 
they shook hands. *^ Ton mnst come to see ns. Count. Bemem- 
ber, our departure is set for Monday nexf 

*' He was my guardian,'* she explained to Mrs. Northmere 
as they drove away, " but long before the term of his authority 
had legally expired, he neglected his duty toward me. My 
poor father had left money in his keeping for my education. 
When that was spent, he washed his hands of me. He is a man 
of pleasure, as you could see, his amusements absorbed him. 
He went to Paris, Vienna, St. Petersburg, and I suppose never 
gave a thought more to the orphan child of his dearest friend. 
Still, I was happy to see him. One likes to remember that 
not all of one's life and circumstances have been cheap and 
common. Dear Mrs. Northmere, my so good kind friend, one 
day I will tell you all about it. . . . Meanwhile, may I make 
one small request? It is that if I must accompany you to the 
soiree to-night at the American banker's, you will present me 
as Miss Cordez, for that is my real name. You thought per- 
haps that the officious individual who bustled about us in the 
station as we departed from Florence was my father? No, no. 
Oh, it is a story ... I will tell it to you the first quiet hour 
we have together.^' 

At Ara Coeli next day, when the Blessed Bambino was 
drawn from his shrine for them, Camilla after long gazing 
at the little figure behung with votive oflferings, women's trinkets 
— chains and brooches and eardrops — twinkling in the taper- 
light, clapped her hands suddenly together exclaiming with a 
passionate sad smile, ^' Oh, if I believed it would obtain for me 
what I wish, would not I too give him the thing I value most ! 



136 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Yes, dear friend, can you believe it? Even the black pearl, 
your gift, which I love as my life 1 *' 

But Mrs. Northmere, conscious of uncertainty in her feel- 
ings and immaturity in her purposes, avoided the responsibility 
of asking any questions. 

And Thursday passed. And Friday. And Saturday. Days 
full for Camilla of elating incidents, which were more how- 
ever like the flowers that fall, than blossoms bearing fruit into 
the future. And Sunday wore toward its close. 

"I will stay in, if you are willing,** Camilla said, when 
Mrs. Northmere proposed the payment of a call as diversion 
for their last evening in Eome. ^' If Count Mari is coming, it 
must be to-night, and I should be sorry to miss him.** 

She put on the dress in which she looked so well, the cherry 
silk shimmering behind black veiling, of pretty volcanic eflEect, 
and while waiting and listening for a tap at the door, began 
doing trifling things toward the departure on the morrow. 

When Mrs. Northmere came in at half-past ten, Camilla 
had, little by little, while waiting and desperately hoping, got 
all her packing done. She was waxen pale, and with such 
a knot as she had in her throat found it difficult to speak. 

Mrs. Northmere sent her at once to rest. Half an hour 
later, she opened the door between their rooms, noiselessly, so 
as not to disturb the child if she had gone to sleep. No, it 
was as she had suspected. The candles were burning, and 
Camilla with hair undone sat as, in the midst of undressing, 
thought had transfixed her. In the face staring stonily at 
the carpet were reflected all the things she would on the morrow 
have returned to, unprofitable labor, cheerless prospect, Elise. 

At sight of the intruder, she jumped to her feet with her 
amiable instantaneous, '^ Do you want me ? Do you need some- 
thing? Can I do anjrthing for you?** 

Mrs. Northmere, with a gesture that bade her sit down again, 
took the other chair. 

*^ Camilla, I ^hall be sorry to part from you,** she at once 
plunged into her subject, ** and yet I know I must not ask you 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 137 

to remain longer away from your work, if you are to return 
to it at all. Nor can I ask you, who need to earn money, to 
continue with me any longer as we have been/* 

Camilla was listening, with a face that breathlessly reached 
ahead for what might be coming. 

"I wish to tell you, however, that if it would make you 
happy to remain with me, it would also make me happy to 
have you. But at a salary, my child. I cannot, as a matter 
of fact, imagine how you could do more for my comfort than 
Tou have done in the last week. Quite too much, my dear. 
Parker's occupation has been gone. Your duties, should you 
accept, would be no more than the amiable offices you have 
freely given as my guest . . . Don't answer me now. Think it 
over. Sleep on it.*' She was preparing to rise. But Camilla 
prevented her by flinging herself at her feet, in tears, and 
covering her resistant hand with kisses. 



CHAPTER IV 

PERIODICALLY the public was infonned by a paragraph 
m the literary column that Mrs. Northmere was writing 
her Memoirs. When this was an old story, it began to be true. 
Nearly three years it took to partly assuage the thirst for 
seeing that had driven the aging woman to explore storied 
countries before infirmity should lay on her too cramping 
fetters. But finally, the old creative instinct reasserting itself, 
or the refiection obtaining that if she was to do any more work 
she must be about it, she decided to try combining literature 
with travel. To this end camp was built for longer sojourns, 
in places selected for a different order of advantages. 

The one who defined herself as Mrs. Northmere^s secretary, 
a sightly, superior young woman in black, deferent with her, 
authoritative with others, had all these matters in charge. She 
wrote ahead for the rooms, she judged of them first, and, having 
decided upon them, from a large box forming part of their 
habitual luggage drew properties that in a few minutes had 
transformed the bleakest hotel parlor into a sitting-room home- 
like and luxurious. Over the sofa-back a priestly cope, stiff 
with gold thread, over the table a square of blue lampas; 
here and there, to cover any meanness, bits of precious em- 
broidery and brocade. And cache-pots which were speedily 
furnished with growing plants, and vases which were kept filled 
with fresh fiowers; over shelves and mantel, knick-knacks 
scattered, and photographs. On the desk, Mrs. Northmere^s own 
great blotter instated, her bronze inkwell and pen and foolscap. 

Nor did the secretary's service to the world in promoting the 
Memoirs end there. The authoress's working-time was jealously 

138 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 139 

guarded^ no interruption suffered. During the f orenoon, letters, 
cards, messages, applications, were received and dealt with by 
the secretary, who added this position of Door to the potentate 
to other offices of importance, such as Purveyor of comforts to 
a grateful majesiy, and Vizier with patronage to bestow, — 
the sense of all which was expressed in the young woman's 
light, erect carriage and the tilt of her well-set head, as she 
passed to and fro before bowing hotel people. 

It was less conspicuous, naturally, when she was alone. 
But could she have been watched one bright particular Septem- 
ber morning, while Mrs. Northmere in the next room with 
poised pen was reviving the remembrance of her earliest suc- 
cesses, so free was she from any effect of pride that it might be 
taken for assured she felt safe from every human eye. 

The morning's mail had been brought, as usual, to her room, 
a heavy budget inscribed to Mrs. Northmere, one slender note for 
Mademoiselle Cordez. In looking over the letters, her attention 
had been arrested by one not forwarded like the rest from a firm 
of bankers, one postmarked Milano, and addressed in a hand 
of which she had her suspicions. 

She sat a considerable time by the table, with this letter 
singled out from among the rest, and while thinking looked 
through the window across a blue lake, towards a flat high 
heliotrope barrier reaching to the sky. 

To the casual observer she had changed very little since the 
night in Bome which inaugurated the new period; but to the 
careful eye the change was distinct, and though the Camilla 
of twenty-four inherited directly from the earlier Camilla, 
who could weep with gratitude over Mrs. Northmere's hand, 
still, she was different in the respect at least that she could 
no longer have so wept. Almost frank, almost soft, the old Ca- 
milla would have seemed beside this new one, as the realities of 
life, she would no doubt have told you, had made her, — the 
hard necessity to look out for others, while looking out for 
herself. 

She picked up the letter, turned it about, and laid it down. 



140 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

After all, Mrs. Northmere having read it would leave it lying on 
her table. Yes, but she so seldom left the room unless to go 
out, and then her companion must go too. Also, she had a 
careless way occasionally of dropping her correspondence into 
the fire. The thought that Mrs. Northmere woidd with in- 
comparable candor have told her anything she expressed a 
desire to know did not rise in the secretary's mind, to afford 
its simple solution to her diflBcidty. 

Noiselessly she fetched a glass of water, dipped her finger, 
and patiently dabbed the gummed edge of the envelope until 
by aid of a penknife it could be lifted, — just as Miss Heller in 
her privacy had used to do when she suspected a pupil^s letter 
of containing amorous or felonious matter. Camilla had easily 
guessed how the thing was managed. Her back was toward 
the room where Mrs. Northmere wrote. Once or twice she 
glanced over her shoulder, and it was particularly during those 
instants that the pride characterizing her usual bearing was 
in eclipse. A premonition of the mortification it would be 
to get caught was responsible for this, and not a sense of guilt. 
One does what one has to do. It is lifers fault that the work 
is sometimes unpicturesque. 

Drawing out the letter, she looked for the signature. Pauline 
Northmere. And it began " Dear Cousin Hannah.'* Just as she 
had thought. It was from that relative. 

" I hear through the Denormandis,'' wrote this person, " that 
you are in Montreux, which strengthens immensely the tempta- 
tion to run away from this hot place and seek a little rest and 
coolness among the mountains. The long summer in town has 
tired me out. 

"The year in Milan, though successful on the whole, has 
been rather trying. My brother's prospects are of course very 
brilliant. Sfoglia calls it the most beautiful tenor voice he has 
ever heard. Two years more under Sfoglia, and he will be 
making his d6but in Opera. But, Cousin Hannah, the work 
it is to prepare a young man for the career of tenor, you can 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 141 

never know! I play all Floy's accompaniments^ but that is 
nothing. To wring out of him two hours and a half of practice 
a day^ twenty minutes at a time^ is the task which keeps me 
thin! 

** Poor Floy, he is only like other young men of his age, I 
suppose. I am sorry for him sometimes, as well as discouraged, 
and ask myself whether it may not be a mistake, my standing 
over him like this, with a stick. If he is ever to do anjrthing, — 
and God knows it is necessary that he shoidd! — he must do 
it by his own exertions. 

^^When I set aside my personal ambitions for his sake, I 
thought myself entitled to such regard from him as would make 
him care to earn glory in which I could take pride. But to 
judge from his actions he does not see the matter as I do. Of 
course, Floy is very young — and, it seems possible, would do 
better if left to himself. It is a problem. I am sometimes 
tempted to give the whole thing up and let Floy, who is old 
enough after all to take care of himself, do it in his own way. 
How I wish I could talk the whole matter over with youl 

*^ As you have guessed from all this, I am writing from the 
depths of the dumps, brought on very likely by fatigue and 
the heat.'* 

(" What are the dumps? *' wondered Camilla.) 

"I do believe that having a good talk virith you, who are 
always so full of good counsel, would help me. Don't be sur- 
prised if you see me appear. I am still struggling with my- 
self, on the ground of economy, but I may lose the fight, fling 
a few things into a bag, and run for the train to Switzer- 
land . . /' 

Having tucked the letter back into its envelope, the secretary 
delicately rubbed the flap with a stick of gum she had licked, 
and pressed it shut. If one did not, prompted by low suspicions, 
examine very carefully, one never would notice the slightly 
blistered appearance resulting from the operation that has been 
described. 



142 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

The operator was left pensive by what she had read. Reach- 
ing for a work-box she set about darning stockings, not her 
own, visibly, — they were quart measures to her pints. Names 
buzzed in her head while she worked, names unattached to the 
usual accompaniment of faces and background. The images 
evoked had the broken and melting lines of things we are only 
guessing at. Pauline and Floy Northmere, in Milan. Mrs. 
Catherine Bridges, at a place called South Marshfield, who was 
written to with fair regularity once a month. Mrs. Reginald 
Borse, formerly Mrs. Adriance Northmere, who figured in one 
of the photographs traveling with them ever3rwhere, a sweetly 
pretty woman, holding in her arms Innesley, the beloved grand- 
child, as a baby. Then, Alice Morton. Who and what was 
Alice Morton, mentioned seldom, but so affectionately? Alice 
Morton, for whom a star-sapphire had been purchased, because 
— Mrs. Northmere had said, when the jeweler placed it under 
her eyes for her temptation, — because it looked like her. A 
twinge of jealousy set a sharp little shadow between Camilla's 
expressive eyebrows. 

When, without sending any further word, Pauline North- 
mere a week later arrived, she found Mrs. Northmere and Ca- 
milla in the act of going out. Instead of laying off her things, 
Mrs. Northmere suggested that the new-comer join them, and 
together they went to the afternoon concert at the Kursaal. 
Later they had tea on a lively and elegant terrace above the 
lake; then they took a slow, slow walk down the main-street, 
stopping before one fascinating shop-front after the other. 

Camilla had no occasion to add one word to the conversation. 
She made a point of effacing herself when Mrs. Northmere had 
friends. Yet it was difficult to forget her presence, unless oue 
were thoroughly used to it. The space she occupied was filled 
with something silently so significant. The eye that woidd 
perhaps willingly have ignored her kept stumbling over her 
there, better worth looking at than most of the world, and so 
stilly, firmly conscious of it. Then, her quiet, incessant attend- 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 143 

ance upon Mrs. Northmere^ — till^ again^ one had grown used 
to it, — kept alive the sense of her personality. She relieved 
her of every burden, saw with infallible eye what was needed, 
went about all without asking, like one who perfectly knows 
her business. As a matter of course she offered her arm if 
there were a step to mount. 

When they reached the hotel door and were about to enter, 
Pauline abruptly drew back, saying she thought she must go. 
She had engaged a room at Pension Beaus^jour, — could n*t 
afford hotels, she added, with sour playfulness. 

Mrs. Northmere pressed her to dine with them. She shook 
her head decisively, though a little sadly. No, thanks, she 
thought she wouldn't, — she did not explain why. In taking 
leave she held on to Cousin Hannah's hand a moment, to say, 
ruefully, " I feel somehow as if I had n't really seen you at 
all ! " Her eye leaving her cousin's face swept impersonally 
across Camilla. 

" My dear, if you won't come to dinner now, come and lunch 
with me to-morrow, do." 

" Shall I ? That would be lovely. Just you and me, by our- 
selves, can't we. Cousin Hannah ? Not table d'hdte. I do want 
to have a good old-fashioned talk ! " 

''Nothing easier, my dear, nothing easier." 

At half -past twelve next day Pauline sent up her name, and 
waited in the hotel reception room. Her face was brighter 
than it had been the evening before. She was rested from 
her journey, she had put on a cheerfuUer dress, and drawn 
upon her fund of optimistic thoughts. A pestilent nightmare 
had infested the early part of the night, but toward morning 
she had fallen into calm refreshing slumbers, and on rising 
girt herself gallantly for the good flght which life represents 
to the Christian. 

Instead of the boy in buttons returning to show her the way 
to Mrs. Northmere, there came the secretary, neat, light, grace- 
fuUy-rounded figure in simple black, with collar and cuffs of 



144 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

white hand-embroidery, at whose approach it was with Pauline's 
spine as if tiny feathers rose on end down its whole length. 

** I am desolated to have to ask you to wait," she said, in her 
clear-cut English. '* Mrs. Northmere now devotes the morning 
to her work. She is, you perhaps know^ writing her Memoirs, 
and under no circumstance ..." 

" I beg your pardon," Pauline interrupted her, " is it my 
cousin who sends me word? Does she know I am here? " 

^ Oh, no. From nine in the morning until one, no messages 
are taken to her. It is arranged that they shall be brought 
to me." 

^Perhaps in this case an exception will be made, and you 
will be so good as to tell her I am here. Or, better, just show 
me the way to her room, will you? You may not Imow that 
I am a very, very old friend, as well as her nearest relative." 

Camilla's eyebrows took an angle significant of deepest, 
deepest regret, but she shook her head. **It is a rule made 
from necessity. Miss Northmere. Only under such conditions 
may the world hope to inherit the wonderful work it has been 
promised. It is a matter of less than half an hour . . ." 

" That 's just it ! " Pauline's temper rose, at the something so 
cocksure in the secretary's manner. '* I am invited to lunch, I 
come at the customary lunch hour and am treated like a dress- 
maker. Who are you. Miss Cordez," she boiled over, "to say 
what I shall or shall not do with regard to my own cousin? " 

Camilla did not at once answer. Pauline's honest and angry 
gray eyes glared at her from a face that had flushed to the 
roots of its light brown hair. Camilla had turned a shade 
paler, but she clung to the insuperable advantage of remaining 
calm. '*I am one," she replied, "whom Mrs. Northmere em- 
ploys exactly as she pleases. When she desires me to secure 
for her peace and solitude during the forenoon, it means . . ." 
Her teeth gleamed in a narrow smile, not devoid of humor, 
" that an intruder will only reach her across my dead body . . ." 

In the moment of silence following, it was sa if the two 
measured each other, to judge what would happen if it came 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 146 

to literal strife. Pauline was larger, but Camilla might have 
joints of steel. 

** Oh, very well I '* Pauline sputtered, turning away. *' I sup- 
pose I can wait!^' And behold, Camilla had melted through 
the door. 

Exasperating, later, to watch her assisting the waiter to lay 
the table in the salon, arranging flowers for the center, filling 
certain glass dishes with dainties from a private store. 

When she finally left the room, presumably to go to her own 
lunch in the general dining-room, Pauline drew breath, as if 
windows had been opened to let out smoke. 

Mrs. Northmere was serene as the mellowest summer Sunday 
afternoon. Pauline trying to get at her own reason for not 
quite liking the change she saw in her cousin, decided the matter 
to be that she did not look like herself, but an Edition de luxe, 
as it were, of the woman they had known. She was carefully 
and handsomely dressed, her increasing size suitably but not too 
rigidly girt. An easy collar, an easy sleeve, an easy shoe, she 
still wore, but all becoming and impeccably fresh. Her power- 
ful gray hair was done as the coiffeur would have approved, or 
only a little more simply and comfortably. All of which Pauline 
found herself resenting just a little, as if it somehow represented 
disloyalty to the clan. 

She felt sure Cousin Hannah knew nothing of the scene down- 
stairs. She had been bursting to tell, yet when they were left 
alone did not at once do it^ that the pleasant peace of the atmos- 
phere might not be jarred. 

For a long time, indeed, Camilla did not find the conversation 
particularly well worth listening to, or believe she missed much 
when scraps were lost to her through the speakers' indistinctness, 
or the interfering street-sounds. 

There was a silence finally, during dessert, lasting long enough 
to puzzle her; then Pauline's voice came, in a speech so full of 
interest as it proceeded that the ear pressed against the door was 
sharpened to the last acuteness. 

"You know. Cousin Hannah/' went the voice, "when you 



146 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

asked me several years ago to come abroad with you and I didnH 
feel I could or ought to, I was n^t at all easy about you, or about 
what I .had done. I could n't be sure my decision was finally 
for the best, though I am sure I tried to do right. Every little 
while the question would rise in my mind whether I had not 
made a mistake, acted selfishly. In fact, I have been wonder- 
ing ever since, and lately in Milan, when it has sometimes 
seemed as if my life were not employed as profitably as might 
be, I have asked myself whether I had not, after all, sacrificed 
to a dream. It appeared unkind, I know, my refusing, when 
there was nobody in the family but me you could call upon, but 
at the time I thought myself justified, whereas now . . . My 
regret for it all was part of my reason for coming to Montreux. 
I thought that if you still needed me. . . . But — " the voice 
seemed to stiffen, "I find you apparently very well sup- 
plied . . /' 

" Yes, yes, my dear ! '* followed in Mrs. Northmere's heartiest 
tones. " I could wish for nothing better ! In fact, I could never 
have dared to hope for anything one half so good ! I assure you 
it is the ideal ! There are a thousand things, Pauline, I coidd 
never have asked you to do for me which Camilla does as a 
matter of course. I dismissed my maid finally, because 
Camilla left nothing for the woman to do. And the fact that 
I can pay her simplifies all. Have no regrets, no regrets at all, 
my dear. Give thanks with me rather for my good fortune ! ^' 

'^She is no doubt a very useful person — but I must say. 
Cousin Hannah, it seems to me she sometimes takes a good 
deal upon herself. I should like you to know that she kept 
me waiting a full half-hour downstairs, spite of all I could say 
or do, before she would let me up to see you.*' 

"Dear me, dear me, I am sorry and abashed. My fault. 
My forgetfulness, Pauline. I should have told her.*' 

*^ And her manner to me was the height of impertinence.*' 

" I know what you mean, exactly. The dog in oflSce. Don't 
give it another thought, there will be no occasion to encounter it 



THE TBTJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 147 

again. I obviously can't get crosa^ becanse she thought she 
was serving me. Be sure it will not happen again.'' 

It almost seemed to Panline, when next Miss Cordez came into 
their presence, that she wore waving above her topknot the 
feather of victory. 



CHAPTEE V 

WHO and what was Alice Morton ? Camilla had wondered, 
when in her meditations she groped after some clearness 
as to her natural enemies. 

She was to learn even there at Montrenx, soon after her ac- 
quaintance with Pauline, enemy first. 

Alice Morton, it seemed, had come to Lausanne to place her 
younger sister in a pensionnat de demoiselles, and finding their 
wandering friend's name in the Bvlletin des Strangers, the pair 
had come fiying over the lake to pay their respects. 

A small brown person, the older sister, such as one would not 
turn to look at a second time. Camilla could not imagine why 
a star-sapphire should be thought to resemble her. The younger 
was a heavy, healthy thing, with unexpectedly shrewd eyes in 
her unripe face, and just manners suflScient to keep her hobble- 
dehoy impulses under when among grown people. 

They were so happy to see Mrs. Northmere, and she was so 
happy to see them, that Camilla could easily have disliked them, 
only it was almost impossible, physically impossible, to Camilla, 
to hate anybody who admired her, and she could not fail to 
see that the two Mortons were immensely impressed by her 
looks. She could feel their eyes following her while she at- 
tended to the table, for they were to dine all together in the 
salon, festively, with sparkling wine and pyramids of fruits 
and sweets. She could feel them stealing shining glances at 
her all through the meal, while they chattered so gaily with 
their hostess. 

Stopping a moment outside the door when, dinner over and 

table cleared, she had considerately left them to themselves, she 

148 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 149 

heard Grace's instantaneous, ^^Who is she?'' and^ with deep 
gratification^ Alice's slower, "Where, dear Mrs. Northmere, 
where, and how, did you find this daughter of dukes, who dusts 
the wineglasses and ties your shoe ? Do tell us who she is ! " 

" My discovery 1 My treasure I " came from Mrs. Northmere, 
then, after an unaccountable pause, disappointingly, " Shall we 
take our chairs out on to the balcony, my dears ? " 

The noise of transporting three clumsy hotel chairs, and for 
the ears of the neighboring room nothing more. 

But for the thrilled curiosity of Alice and Grace all the satis- 
faction they craved. 

'* She has been with me now over two years," Mrs. North- 
mere informed them, as they sat in the gathering twilight. " I 
found her in Florence. She came to the pension where I was 
staying, to give French and Italian lessons. The manager of 
the pension, I found out, in consideration of her personal recom- 
mendation, exacted a percentage ofE the price of the lessons, 
which brought the poor girl's receipts to twenty cents an hour. 
That first gave me the impulse to do something for her, little 
thinking, when I undertook the part of fairy godmother, that 
she and not I was to prove the good fairy. From that day I 
have had cause to bless my stars. Alice, my dear, Grace, it 
passes belief, the number and kinds of ways that girl makes 
herself useful to me. Is it a tear to mend, or a nail to drive, a 
cabman to bring to his senses, or a polite note to write ; is it to 
arrange the fiowers for the table, to remember the hour for my 
powders, see that I don't leave the house without my purse and 
pocket handkerchief, shop for me, pack for me, read to me, 
dress my hair, Camilla does one thing just as well and just as 
willingly as the other. I don't see now what I should do with- 
out her. When I go to bed, Alice, there on the night-stand 
beside me are my book, my spectacles, my candle, my matches, 
my lozenges, my glass of water, and a handbell to ring if I want 
her. And a handkerchief under my pillow. And this 365 
nights in the year, and for a monthly sum that at home 
wouldn't satisfy a cook. And mind you, there's no pretense 



150 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

about it^ what she appears to do^ she does. She forgets 
nothing, she falls short in nothing/^ 

" And to top all/^ Alice interjected, '^ she *s so handsome that 
it's a delight to look at her I Mrs. Northmere, again, who is 
she?'' 

" My dear Alice, I don't know." Mrs. Northmere bent so as 
to take a circular look at the room, and lowered her voice. 
^^ She has told me that her mother was a Boman marchesa who 
died when she was born, and that her father, half Greek, was 
at one time Victor Emanuel's physician, and lost his fortune 
gambling there at Court. And — it is possible ! A hearsay of 
something different was repeated to me, but why should I give 
it preference? . . ." 

" To return to my precious find's efficiencies," Mrs. Northmere 
took up with the warmth of enthusiasm, after allowing the time 
proper before a change of subject, "she has excellent taste in 
dress, — for me, at least, don't you think so? For herself, too, 
I must say, mostly. Shortly after I took her she flowered forth, 
as if it had been the symbol of new vistas opening with her 
enfranchisement, in those enormous black hats, with the fear- 
some velvet-faced brim. She wore with them at first a black 
boa of uncommon luxuriance, and, upon occasions, at casinos 
and promenades, large pearl ear-studs. She dressed, in fact, 
for a different novel from the one I felt disposed to figure in 
with her. But at the first hint from me she gave up the pearls 
and the boa so sweetly, that I had not the heart to say a word 
against the hat. By itself it can't do much harm." 

The evening was still young when Miss Cordez stepped out 
on the balcony and whispered to Mrs. Iforthmere. 

" If s time for my rubbing," Mrs. Northmere told her young 
friends, with a beaming look which signified that here was only 
one more of the luxuries she in these days enjoyed, "but you 
mustn't go, dear children. Amuse yourselves for half an 
hour, and then come and visit with me in my wrapper." 

On the morning after, as Alice and Grace waited for their 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 151 

steamboat^ a lady who stood near on the wharf^ staring over the 
rail down at the water^ lifted her head suddenly at mention of 
Mrs. Northmere, and approached. " I am afraid you don't re- 
member me/' she introduced herself, " Pauline Northmere/' 

Alice laughed in her embarrassment, for it was true, she had 
not at once recognized her. ''Of course. Of course. But I 
had no idea you were in Montreux ! *' 

''Cousin Hannah didn't tell you?'* Pauline asked, rather 
too quietly, " for I suppose you have seen her." 

" Such a short visit I It seems to me we had n't time to say 
anything. I thought . . . Did n't we hear that you were some- 
where in Italy ? ** 

"Yes, in Milan. It was still so hot I ran away, and came 
up here to cool off. I shall be going back in a day or two. 
You are taking the boat?" 

"For Lausanne." 

" You are staying there? " 

Alice gave her own news, and made polite inquiry of the 
other's. Their remarks were becoming far-spaced, and still the 
boat did not arrive. 

"How is Cousin Hannah?" asked Pauline, after a minute 
of dullness. 

Alice looked at her in surprise. "What do you mean? 
Have n't you seen her ? " 

" Seen her, oh, yes. Not, however, for the last day or two. 
And in view of the fact that it was expressly to see her I 
came to Montreux rather than go to one of the quieter places, 
I certainly have n't seen much of her." 

"Why is that. Miss Northmere? I never knew her more 
balmy, more sociably inclined, more cordial . . ." 

"Oh, yes, she was cordial to me, too. She invited me to 
stay at her hotel, as her guest, but — Miss Morton, can you 
stand that creature she has got with her ? " 

"That — you don't mean Miss Cordez?" 

" Miss Cordez, yes. Does n't it make you ill to see her hover- 
ing about Cousin Hannah, palpably making use of that simple- 



152 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

hearted, short-sighted dear woman for her own darkling pur- 
poses ? '* 

Alice regarded her wide-eyed. 

" Oh, I can^t stand it ! *' Pauline puffed. " I can't stand her, 
and I'm sure many others must feel as I do. She bids fair 
to estrange all Cousin Hannah's friends. She stands like a 
barrier — is it possible you don't feel it? — between Cousin 
Hannah and all who may be trying to approach her." Her 
eyes were gloomy as she said these things, gloomy as the bottom 
of the water into which she had been staring, but a fixed fire 
of anger and grievance turned their cool, righteous grayness hot. 

"I call it cruel, I call it pitiful, — oh, pathetic, pathetic," 
she further eased her heart of its corrosive, pent-up excitement, 
*^ to see Cousin Hannah, who used to have so much sense, giving 
herself over without a question or a doubt into the hands of a 
creature who has adventuress written in big letters from her 
head to her feet I " 

Alice's face was odd to see. She was remembering what she 
would not have revealed for worlds, that she had taken the lady 
in question for a daughter of dukes. 

" I read her at a single glance," Pauline proudly announced. 
*^The moment I set eyes on her I knew what sort of an 
intrigante she was, and what her game." 

Alice did here, in revolt against the uneasiness into which she 
was plunged, find spirit to say, " It is a game. Miss Northmere, 
which at all events involves diligent service and unmistakable 
hard work. For two years she has not forgotten to put Mrs. 
Northmere's handkerchief under her pillow at night. That's 
something, you know." 

"But not something to pay for with a fortune amounting 
to considerably over half a million when translated into francs ! " 
Pauline triumphantly objected, and turned squarely to Alice, 
to watch the effect of the shock. What she saw probably satis- 
fied her, for she went on, as if expecting no reply from one 
whose breath had effectually been taken away, " Oh, it 's the 
saddest thing I ever knew ! A miserable, miserable affair," she 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 153 

reiterated^ with a face of acute regret and sympathy^ ** that in 
oncoming old age she should have no one near her of her own^ 
no one who cares a rap about her I Just that scheming, loyeless 
factotum^ making material life perfectly smooth while wishing 
her dead the next hour^ if she could first secure her money. It 
is only to be hoped — But here, I belieye, is your boat.^ 



» 



"All the same/' said Grace later, on their way, ^^ all the 
same, Pauline Northmere is a fool ! *' 

She had been throwing bits of bread to the following gulls, 
while her sister watched the blue Leman slipping past, both, it 
now appeared, thinking of the same things. 

Instead of checking her, as she often felt it her duty to do, 
Alice looked up sympathetically for the development of this 
opinion. 

" For she does n't give Mrs. Northmere credit for one particle 
of sense, or any character at all I She seems to think this for^ 
eign Mademoiselle can manage her, make her do what she pleases. 
If ow it *s my idea it would be harder to make Mrs. Northmere 
do what she did nH choose than any old lady that ever was bom I 
As for pulling wool over her eyes — it 's my idea that what she 
does n't see does n't matter. Miss Cordez may be clever as Old 
Scratch, but Mrs. Northmere is on to her, I 'm willing to bet my 
boots!'' 

In an undercurrent way Alice did reflect that it had been 
high time to separate this sister from the brother next in age. 
But the knowledge of a young ladies' boarding-school imminent, 
where all these graceless young ways would be censured and 
expunged, prevented her, for very sadness, from taking up at 
this moment the part of mentor. 
I think so, too," she simply said. 

For one sure thing, she knows her young lady fibs. Was n't 
that plain from the way she spoke? And when she was going 
to tell us about her, did you notice how she looked at the door, 
with that cute ducky look, that sort of measuring eye, and de- 
cided to move out onto the balcony? She suspected her Miss 






154 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Cordez of not being a bit too good to listen at the key-hole! 
If it's true that Miss Cordez's scheme is to come in for Mrs. 
Northmere's money, let me tell Pauline that Mrs. Northmere 
knows it at least as well as she does. Ha! I think I can see 
any little game of hers succeeding with Mrs. Northmere ! *' 

"Of course, of course,*' said Alice, but her face failed to 
brighten. " It could only be if she first gained a real influence, 
an ascendancy over her.'* 

" And I don't see her doing that, do you ? " 

*^Not as Mrs. Northmere is now, certainly. But, Grace, 
she is growing old . . ." 

" Alice, she looks younger ! I never saw her looking so well ! 
Those nice clothes, and her hair beautifully dressed, and her 
corset pulled in. She never did that by herself. It's Miss 
Cordez." 

" She told us so, you remember." 

"And don't you think it's great? Don't you love to think 
of her living like a lady, going from one of these frivolous re- 
sorts to another, without a bother or a care? Drinking her tea 
among flowers, and listening to music, and playing with the 
idle rich?" 

"Yes, yes, of course I do. I only wish she had somebody 
with her whom we knew a little more about." 

"I know this much about Miss Cordez, that for a Eoman 
marchesa she hasn't the right hands. Not for my idea of a 
Boman marchesa. I notice everybody's hands. Her head might 
be a swell's, French or Italian or Spanish, but her hands are 
common, plain common." 

" If one could only think she was fond of Mrs. Northmere, 
that Mrs. Northmere had some one near who was sincerely at- 
tached to her . . ." 

" Alice, if Mrs. Northmere is satisfied, will you tell me why 
we should groan ? And Mrs. Northmere was bursting with joy. 
And when Mrs. Northmere stops liking her Camilla, Camilla will 
have to go. And when Mrs. Northmere feels the want of some- 
body around to love her, she will set to work and get it. She 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 155 

will send for ypu^ Alice, or for me, or some other good American 
she knows all about. And are you so crazy as to suppose any 
one of lis would do for her what that Dago does? — Take out 
your sapphire, Alice, and let^s have another look at it/' 



CHAPTBE VI 

IT was when the writing of her Memoirs brought her to re- 
call hour by hour Innesle/s last days, that homesickness 
made itself first felt in Mrs. Northmere's breast. But she had 
settled down for the winter in a German city, where, being now 
eager to finish her book, she had determined there should be 
few distractions, and she adhered to her plans. Camilla was 
accustomed to those hours of absence and taciturnity which sig- 
nified that the author was brooding her work, and at first hardly 
noticed that the cloud on the brow of the mountain was more 
than usually dark. She became anxious after a time, in the 
suspicion that Mrs. Northmere might be ill. By the end of 
November Mrs. Northmere lay prostrate with rheumatic fever. 

It was painful and it was long, and the convalescence made 
peculiarly dreary by the dismal behavior of sky and earth. 
Camilla did, literally, all she could to assist the sufferer and 
cheer the invalid. Every capacity was strained to make her 
all-suflBcient. The patient's lips thanked her, but the eyes went 
wandering beyond her, asking for something else. The eyes 
seemed sometimes to take her up, search her, and drop her. She 
intimately felt that Mrs. Northmere was no longer satisfied. 

Horror had seized her, at the worst of the illness, to think 
that her patroness might die; this danger past, such dismay as 
murders sleep succeeded, with the apprehension that she was not 
enough for Mrs. Northmere now. It seemed impossible to do 
more than she already did, but she tried. She made herself 
livelier company ; she talked, she raked the past for memories fit 
to tell, invented others ; she gathered wherever she could bits of 
gossip, scraps of news, to repeat. Mrs. Northmere, however ail- 

156 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 167 

mg, showed relish for this chatter of her Figaro. She listened^ 
sometimes with amusement^ always with attention. Camilla's 
thoughts upon people she encouraged her to express. It was 
only when she uttered her smart judgments upon art and letters 
that the ponderous old personage almost rudely shut her up. 
One of her eccentricities. 

But it was all not enough. One day Mrs. Northmere spoke 
of going home as soon as she should be well enough to travel. 

Camilla heard it aghast. She did not know whether she 
might take for granted that she should accompany her lady, and 
she did not care to ask. She was afraid to hear. Something 
in a comer of her heart, that turned so cold at the thought, told 
her this would be Mrs. Northmere^s way of getting rid of her. 
She had had of her all she wanted, but could not dismiss her 
without further explanation. So she invented this pretext of 
business which necessitated traversing the seas. Perhaps she 
would not even go, but pay her off and send her back to 
Florence, just pretending she was about to sail. Without doubt 
she would make her a handsome present, that would be her way, 
several thousands of francs, a species of indemnity. 

On the other hand, she wondered, how, how, could Mrs. 
Northmere dispense with her ? The one who knew where every- 
thing was, how everything must be done, where the lame spots 
lived, where the nerve was sensitive, how much sugar, how many 
drops. . . . While torn by these doubts, Camilla wasted to a 
delicate haggardness ; a dark line appeared beneath her watchful 
eye. 

She finally, in the poignant reality of her need, turned to 
prayer. She had never lost faith in the supernal governors and 
guardians, but, moving about, and living among heretics, she 
had become careless of her religious duties, and somewhat lost 
sight of the whole matter. She now recognized her fault and 
repented. Seeking in her mind, with refreshed hope, what saint 
— after a general appeal to the Virgin and Holy Trinity, — to 
turn to, she fixed upon Saint Anthony as her special helper, that 
practical saint who, for a promise of five francs in the poor-box. 



168 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

will find lost articles for you. She had proved his eflScacy more 
than once, and was the readier to trust her business with him. 
She vowed him a double amount . . . and paid it^ too, soon 
after^ slipping out in the cold dusk^ her heart warm through and 
through, to &id the Cathedral. For Mrs. Northmere had that 
day spoken in a manner leaving no doubt that she expected 
Camilla to come with her. 

The thought did push forth one little black horn, even as 
she approached the sacred altar-steps, that since Mrs. North- 
mere had intended from the first to take her along, Saint An- 
thony had had easy work for his ten francs . . . But she 
treated it as it deserved, and dropping on her knees with devout 
abandonment said her prayers as sincerely as any other poor 
mortal there. 

Only gross ignorance, thought Camilla, the second day aboard 
ship, could excuse a rational being for leaving the trusty and 
solid to embark on this repulsive, convulsive, treacherous liquid. 
At one moment all the ambitions, the plans, the hopes of a life- 
were as if they had never been, and desire was limited to a few 
feet of something that stood still. How had one never appre- 
ciated the fact that the ground is stationary ? How never known 
when one was well oflE? 

On the fourth day she began to recover her sense of superiority, 
only to feel it falter when she saw Mrs. Northmere who, sturdy 
old party, had not been sick, pacing the deck on the Captain's 
arm. On the fifth day she liked the Atlantic and the wind, 
objected not at all to the rollicking scup movement of the ship, 
and felt her gratitude revive that she had not been left be- 
hind. 

Charlie Smith, his overcoat pockets distended with newspapers, 
came to meet them on the tug. Henry Sterling Morton stood on 
the wharf, and Alice, smiling her moved smile, carrying a 
mauve box which proved to contain violets. And Winslow Bene- 
dict, gray of whisker but young of heart, gallantly observant of 
friendship's every rite, carrying a white and gold box which 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 159 

proved to contain one supreme purple orchid couched on maiden- 
hair. And a detached man who wore a peculiar little air of 
being nobody's darlings and proved to be a reporter. To him 
Mrs. Northmere graciously accorded five minutes, after which 
he was not seen again. Then, while she sat throned on a pack- 
ing-case, violets in her fist, her bosom bed of state to one 
gorgeous orchid, talking with Morton and Alice and Benedict, 
Charlie Smith, after asking for their keys, went off to deal 
with the custom-house officers. Him Camilla hurriedly followed, 
to see that no liberties were taken with the roba. They had to 
stand a long time waiting among the baggage, during which 
they made better acquaintance. 

Camilla knew, as a good Florentine, that she came from 
the one place that is exactly right ; and, as an Italian, from the 
country above all others indubitably blessed by Nature and the 
Lord. But she had the same liking for the modem that people 
from new countries have for the ancient. She loved busy, 
bustling, noisy, brightly lighted cities, where more and more 
things are happening all the time, and she was caught, even 
while half repelled, by New York, though she declared it very 
ugly. She was impressed and allured by the amazing hotel to 
which they went, more enormous than anything in Paris or 
London, that she had seen, — more enormous, she supposed, 
than anything in the world. She looked up suspiciously at 
the looming mass, half incredulous of its realily. The luminous 
glitter, lavish gold, and mad luxury of its interior, seemed also 
for the first hours unlikely, and only comparable to stage- 
settings for one of those great ballets that intersect the Opera 
in Italy, where with pails of paint, and calcium-light at com- 
mand, the artist can produce effects as imearthly rich as his 
imagination can attain to. 

One of her entertainments during the week they spent in 
this palace was to translate the simis on the bill of fare into 
francs, and astonish herself. A franc and a half for a saucer 
of oatmeal porridge, which food, Mrs. Northmere enlightened 
her, was in gross worth four soldi a poimd, one of this people's 



160 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

pounds^ of sixteen ounces. There was a profit! What a 
country I 

Mrs. Northmere was taken possession of by friends and fol- 
lowers; she lunched out^ dined out^ going to these places in 
carriages that cost from fifteen to twenty-five francs each time. 
Camilla got a sobering view of the road to beggary, and but 
that their stay was to be short in the extravagant city might 
have been too imeasy to enjoy any of its pageants and shop- 
windows. She was as a rule not included in invitations^ the 
paid companion. When it happened that she was invited, she 
excused herself, caring little to appear in the world under the 
present conditions. She put on, along with her great black 
hat, the boa and pearl ear studs sometimes^ unknown to Mrs. 
iCTorthmere, to go out alone and reassure herself that she was 
no nonentity. 

It was Charlie Smith, the ever ready to make himself useful, 
who, in such time as he could wrest from his business of sub- 
editor, did the honors of New York to Camilla. He induced 
her to mount into a dread railway carriage flying in mid-air, 
and took her to see the end of the world from the height of 
vertiginous trestles; he escorted her to the Aquarium and to 
the top of the tallest building in town; he showed her the 
great newspaper, where it was printed and prepared entirely 
by machinery in a cellar. He took her to the Park — no, 
it was Alice Morton who took her to drive in the Park, the 
day she also dined at the Mortons'. But Charlie Smith took 
her to Buffalo Bill at Madison Square Garden, after they had 
dined together at a restaurant, quite alone, without the smallest 
impropriety. 

He puzzled her, but so did, in some degree, almost all the 
American men she met. He was not old, though not very 
young; an agreeable exterior he had, an open expression and 
an easy laugh, a manner singularly yet inoflEensively familiar. 
He admired her, as a matter of course, but there was no at- 
tempt to impinge with that masculine fact on her feminine 
consciousness, no intimation such as is shot from one system 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 161 

of nerves to the other that under circumstances more propitious 
he would infallibly and with enthusiasm have made love to 
her. At the end of the intimate little dinner with a pretty 
woman, when she was arranging her veil in front of the glass, 
and he too looked at her graceful reflection, the most he did 
was to say, "Ha, hum! Wish I was twenty-five and had a 
million ! *' And it was said with humorous, friendly eyes, which 
invited hers to see the joke with him. But she liked Charlie 
Smith, in a new and separate way of liking men, with a regard 
juat three degrees warmer than indifference, — and later she 
sent him her photograph. 

But the change, the change from New York to South Marsh- 
field I From the great overheated modem hotel to the isolated 
farm amid its windy trees! Camilla, lover of splendor, was 
yet no more sorry of the departure than was Mrs. Northmere, 
for she had begun to fear her heavy charge might fall ill again 
on her hands, with all that confusion, exertion, imrest. Mrs. 
Northmere had not the same endurance as before her illness. 

The vehicle that came to meet them at the station was 
shock the first, the rattling carryall with the old white horse, 
driven by a countryman in his weekday clothes, Hiram, whose 
hand Mrs. Northmere warmly shook, and whose slowly spread- 
ing smile remained fixed in crescent shape above the crescent of 
sandy fringe trimming his jaw. 

Then the low wooden house, lighted in all its dimmutive 
windows of the many subdivisions,— strange manner of villa 
for the important Mrs. Northmere to call her home! In the 
doorway, against the square of gold, an old country-woman, 
greeted as Cassie, whom Mrs. Northmere took in her arms. 

In the room where supper was ready a great iron stove 
with red windows was purring; chairs that stood not still, but 
rocked you like a cradle, were drawn near to this, on an oval 
of curious carpet, wrought, you discovered, of braided rags. 

That night Camilla made acquaintance with clams, and baked 
beans, and pumpkin pie. She had no duties to perform for 



162 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Mrs. Northmere, for Cassie^ — was she a seryant or no ? — who 
had eaten at the table with them, took them all from her^ with 
Mrs. Northmere^s ready consent. Camilla heard the murmur 
of the two talking steadily together, like schoolgirls^ until long 
after midnight. 

She looked curiously around the bedroom to which Cassie had 
lighted her, after the woman was gone. One great portion of 
the ceiling slanted to the floor at a narrow angle. The bed 
was a vast and cumbrous affair, four great columns of turned 
wood with a canopy of muslin, lavender and white. On the 
floor of straw matting, more islands of braided rag, and, for 
her private use, too, one of the cradle-chairs. The bed, when 
she had entered it, proved to be hard; investigating, she found 
that the mattress rested on a Saint Lawrence's gridiron of 
strong rope. Yet she slept well, did not dislike her bed. 
After a fashion, she during that period liked everything, how- 
ever curious it seemed, for the elation was still with her that 
she had not been left behind. The relief of it, the joy, caroled in 
her heart. The sense of safety, so far, colored all with pleasant 
tints. 

It was her natural bent to feel amiably toward the world 
in general; she only hated individuals who committed or con- 
stituted an injury against herself. Accordingly, she looked 
with affable acceptance upon the neighbors who came in numbers 
to call, apparently humble folk, many of them, who approached 
the celebrity with incredible lack of ceremony, and were re- 
ceived with incredible indulgence. The village seamstress, the 
blacksmith's daughters, among others, were kept to dine. Mrs. 
Northmere, in the carryall driven by Hiram, went forth to 
make calls, without Camilla. That she was happy to be at 
home, fraternizing with these unpretentious people, there could 
be no doubt. After a fortnight she left South Marshfield, to 
make divers visits, leaving Camilla to keep the house with 
Cassie and N'omi, Cassie's niece, who did the cooking, and 
Hiram, termed the hired man, who performed his toilet at the 
kitchen sink and, for a wonder, did not come to the table, — 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 163 

why, she 'could not tell. N^omi remained outside, too, to serve 
his dinner to him. 

Days not without charm, after all, though so imeventful, for 
it was not in Gamilla^s nature to be bored. It was peaceful 
with a healing, almost conventual peace, in the old country- 
house, full, like the landscape, of un-Italian odors. The rest 
was good for her, she gained a kilo and more. Not inartistic, 
no, the silver-gray, gable-roofed house, with its cornice of twisted 
vine, its ell and rambling additions, its bam and colony of out- 
buildings. The piazza — extraordinary name for a loggiato! 
— was an agreeable retreat looking into an old gnarled orchard, 
still bare, like the vine, but for the first burgeons. A shrewd 
wind shook the branches, but the April light was at intervals 
almost as bright as that of Italy, and birds which she saw for 
the first time — robins, big, like other American things, — 
warbled deliciously. 

Camilla, who must always be doing something, begged to feed 
the chickens, to hunt for the eggs. She asked for house^linen 
to dam, she dusted the parlor ornaments. She went into the 
kitchen one day and had a prolonged struggle with Cassie to 
get the flatiron out of her hand, and relieve her of the 
ironing. Cassie, that was the small familiar name of Mrs. 
Catherine Bridges, of whom she had felt obscure jealousy so 
long. 

Cassie> who had distinguished herself nefariously during that 
historic trip abroad, by openly loathing and contiemning every 
foreign thing, ought in consistency to have hated and suspected 
Camilla, than whom nothing more foreign had ever been seen 
in the five Marshfields, — not the tropical birds under glass 
bells, not the corals in the cabinet, contributions of old sea- 
captains, — and whom Cassie correctly felt that she no more 
could read than she read the Italian tongue. But because she had 
so disgraced herself five years before, a secret wish moved her, 
to retrieve the reputation for good sense imperiled with her 
old friend and mistress. To wipe out that shame, she now did 
violence to every prejudice of her blood and bone, and in the de- 



164 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

sire, paxt honorable vanity^ to show that her limitations were 
not so set as had been judged^ she chose to distinguish with 
deliberate confidence precisely this Camilla. It would please 
Mrs. Northmere. 

So Cassie's attitude was from the first not hostile. And so 
pleasant-spoken, so pretty-behaved, so efEectively desirous to help 
and please, was the foreigner, that every native instinct of 
Cassie's was gradually dazzled into hypnotic sleep, and to the 
cautious armed peace of the earliest days succeeded a relative 
openness and a provisional liking. Yet she had never seen 
Camilla at her best, as ministering genius to Mrs. Northmere, 
for as soon as she got home Mrs. iCTorthmere had fallen into 
her old ways, dispensed with a good deal of waiting upon, and 
for the rest let her old Cassie do for her. 

While the sharp spring wind outside made the clear stare 
flicker, or spring rain drummed on the piazza roof, Cassie would 
bring her silk patchwork to the study where pine logs burned 
in the old-fashioned chimney-place; and she on one side of 
the lamp, Camilla with her embroidery on the other, they spent 
the evening in company, ending with a dish of russet apples 
cold from the cellar. 

Cassie was the right one surely from whom to hear about the 
family . . . Yes, she had known them every one, been with 
Mrs. Northmere ever since she came home from her wedding- 
trip and bought back that old homestead of the Northmeres, 
which passed out of their hands when the heirs went to law 
among themselves and the property was sold, about the year 
1816. If you went back far enough Cassie too had Northmere 
blood, most folks in Marshfield had it somewhere along the 
line, though the name was becoming scarce. 

Camilla stepped into the dark, unheated best room, where the 
lace-curtains were and the satin chairs, and taking from a 
marble-topped table the basket of daguerreolypes and the photo- 
graph album, brought them to Cassie. Cassie laid down her 
work, settled her spectacles, and the comfort she was about to 
take in talking of things she knew better than anybody else 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 165 

made her finely obstinate, narrowly self-respecting puritan face 
almost genial. 

Yes, that was Hannah Northmere ; opposite to her, Dnmonde, 
her husband, well-favored like most of the Northmeres, and 
what she had heard 'em call a brilliant man. But she had never 
seen that much came of it, things always turned out diflEerent 
from what he said. They made a fine-looking couple, didn't 
they? He brought back a disease from the West Indies where 
he had gone to see if he would n't like to become a sugar planter, 
and died before Adriance was a year old . . . Adriance, they 
must look for him amongst the photographs. A lovely boy. 
She had taken care of him from his birth. Lively, so lively 
it was difiBcult to make him do right. He ought to have been 
given a good solid name like John Henry, to begin with. 
When he was in school there was always trouble, and when he 
went to college, where he learned most everything, the one 
thing he wouldn't learn was the value of money. A great 
pity when a boy hasn't a man to rule him. Mrs. Northmere 
would have liked him to become a doctor like her own father, but 
he inherited her kind of faculty, and he made up plays for the 
theater, pretty good plays, his mother agreed, which she must 
find the money to have performed, and never got none of it 
back. He took to acting himself, and mixing all the time with 
that kind of people, he married an actress. As nice a boy as 
ever lived, and he loved his mother, too, but he never would 
leam any more than his father that things are as they are 
and not as you want 'em to be. He ran himself down in that 
sort of life, and then because he had dropped his white silk 
muflBer* somewhere, he always was careless, and went out on a 
December night with nothing across his chest but his dress- 
shirt front, he got cold and died inside a week. His wife, 
Lilias, foolish name, and Innesley, their boy, came to live with 
the grandmother, who had to support them, as she had all her 
days since she met the first Northmere been supporting one or 
another belonging to the family. But after a while Lilias 
couldn't stand the quiet life, and left Innesley to the grand- 



166 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

mother, who was glad to support her from a distance for the sake 
of having her go. Not that she was dislikable, but she had no 
brain, not even enough for an actress, pretty as she was. She 
kept writing that she was going to get an engagement, but she 
never got one again. She came back when Innesley was near 
the end, she loved him, but could nH make herself of any use, she 
was only in the way. After Innesley died, she had to stay, be- 
cause Mrs. If orthmere was most drained dry by all she had done 
for Innesley, treatments, doctors, changes of air, and it was 
cheaper. They lived at the farm the year round, because they 
couldn't afford the city. You couldn't help but be sorry for 
Mrs. Adriance in those days. It was presumed she called for help 
in a letter, for an old beau from her actress times turned up from 
town. Never been so glad in all their bom days to see anybody 
get married and go away ... 

" But Mrs. Northmere remained friends with her daughter-in- 
law ? '' asked Camilla. " Is n't she the Mrs. Reginald Borse 
whom she has gone to visit in Baltimore ? '' 

" Yes. Mrs. Northmere would n't ever punish anybody for be- 
ing weak-minded, no more'n she'd talk back to the weather. 
Mrs. Borse has a baby that she writes looks like Innesley used 
to look." 

" Innesley was very dear to Mrs. Northmere, I suppose. She 
does not like to speak of the past." 

" I don't know as he was any dearer than the other two, but 
by the time you're a grandmother you're softer. Here's 
Innesley." 

*^Yes, I know the face. We have a frame that holds the 
photographs of the three, that of the husband is an enlarge- 
ment of the one in the case which you have shown me. It goes 
with us everywhere, but we did not bring all the boxes to 
America for a time so short. Are there among these pictures 
any of her own family, Dustins?" 

" Yes, there 's a few. Let me see. That 's Doctor Dustin, fine 
looking old gentleman, ain't he ? And that 's the mother. Here 's 
a brother who died before he was twenty. And here 's an old 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 167 

maid aunt. All dead long ago. I don't think she 's got a single 
relative left on that side.'' 

Camilla had been turning the leaves of the album. "Who 
is this ? " she asked, as one politely does during such an enter- 
tainment, without pretending to any real curiosity. 

"That? ... It's Pauline Northmere." 

" Handsome." 

" I suppose so, but I don't appreciate her much, no matter 
what the reason be." 

" Ah ? ... I will not be so indiscreet as to ask. What is she 
to Mrs. Northmere?" 

" Nothing but a cousin by marriage, and a long ways ofif, too. 
Her grandfather and Dumonde were own cousins, that makes 
her what? Third, or thrice removed. But she comes to this 
house and behaves as if she were an own niece at the very 
least." 

" A person without tact, I fear. Is it her brother of whom I 
have heard Mrs. Northmere sometimes speak, Mr. Floy North- 
mere ? " 

"Yes, she has a brother Floy, very different from herself. 
A real nice boy, a good deal younger. Their mother was a real 
nice woman. But I 'm disappointed in him. I 've no patience 
with a man who chooses singing for his profession." 

" It is a beautiful art. Why do you not like it ? " 

*^ Because it ain't the work of a man, and because, if I know 
him, he won't make a living any more than Pauline with her 
piano-playing." 

"And does it matter so much that he should make his art 
lucrative? Have they not an income without it?'* 

*^I don't suppose they'd starve or have to beg." 

''No, with people on that plane of life there is always the 
family behind them. In this case there is the kind Mrs. North- 
mere. Has she any nearer relatives than they are? Nieces or 
nephews ? " 

"No. Dumonde was an only child." 
Then they can, after all, depend upon inheriting from her? " 



<( 



168 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" Well, — they Ve no nearer related than some others, though 
they *re so much more to the fore. There ^s a dozen Northmerea 
of the same branch scattered over the country, but I Ve never 
seen any on 'em. I don't know what she means to do, nor I 
guess she does n't. And it don't seem to matter much, so long 
as there 's not one left of her own blood. I '11 be gone by that 
time, so what should it matter to me who gets the house and 
land ? Except I 'd sort of like it should stay Northmere . . . 
Guess I don't want to think about it anyhow . . . See here. 
This patch is a piece of Mrs. Northmere's bonnet-string, from 
a bonnet that was part of her wedding outfit. Tou don't see 
that kind any more . . ." 

But Camilla became tired of it all before the end, and wished 
for Mrs. Northmere's return. She did not, as she expressed it 
to herself, — did not see the hour of packing up to take ship for 
Europe, there to begin over again the life she was accustomed to, 
the travel, the stations at attractive places, never lasting so 
long that you could weary of them, the convenient hotel-life, 
the service of a class that accepted you as marked and stamped 
superiors, and whose respect you entertained by appropriate 
fees. But above all she longed to have Mrs. NTorthmere to her- 
self again, manage her, personally conduct her, be to her all in 
all; longed to carry her away from this democratic circle, cure 
her of the common ways she was fallen into, see her return to 
be the quietly imposing personage, highly de Ion ton, solid in 
wealth and reputation, who overpaid her way in sterling coin, 
and whose favor people courted. 

More and more eagerly she yearned for Mrs. Northmere's re- 
turn — and then when it befell that pleasure was spoiled for 
her. 

Cassie and she had not gone to the depot for Mrs. North- 
mere with the carryall, because it rained. Hiram had gone 
with the buggy, and when, hearing the wheels, they ran to open 
the door, they saw in the twilight, besides the figures of Mrs. 
Northmere and Hiram, a white quadruped which, if they thought 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 169 

anyUiing about it, they supposed to be a stray dog, some 
dog of the neighbors* on a quiet prowl by himself . . . But no, 
when Mrs. Northmere entered, she whistled, and in he came 
with a scramble and a bound, at which Camilla backed against 
the wall and Cassie fell away with a startled, *^ Mercy on us, 
who's that?'* 

" That is Boss Brady, one of the family,'* said Mrs. Northmere, 
pleased as a mother looking down at her child dressed for a 
photograph ; " that is my dog/* 

The smile which would have been appropriately turned upon 
some fairylike morsel in starched petticoats and pink hair- 
ribbon, or some dimpled toy-man in his first trousers, was bent on 
what seemed to Camilla a very monster. 

She knew little about dogs and desired to know no more. 
This thick-thewed beast, with the frog eyes and great brass- 
studded collar, she took to be a bull-dog, of all races the most 
dangerous and detestable. 

Mrs. Northmere had stooped to stroke him. ** Was he going 
to be a good dog?** she asked in tones of the cooing dove. 
**Was he going to love his new family? Cassie, get me a 
cloth, I wish to wipe ofif those muddy paws.** 

" Look at that I ** she said afterwards, extending her arm with 
a showman*s gesture toward Boss Brady where, after an excited 
round of inspection, he for the moment sat quietly in the 
vicinity of the stove. "I ask you candidly, does that look to 
you like a bad dog?** 

The others, naturally, looked at him, and, unconscious of be- 
ing an object of criticism, he blinked back at them, a little 
sleepily. Forty pounds in weight, broad-chested, bull-necked. 
White, with a brindle spot on his shoulder, brindle patches tak- 
ing in his eyes and brief cropped ears. Some one, so it looked, 
had inconsiderately aimed an inkbottle at the middle of his 
white face and it had broken there, scattering the ink unevenly 
His eyes, golden brown and heavily rimmed with lamp-black, 
like a leading gentleman's made up for the part of lover, 
added to the comic of that comic mask by the solecism of being 



170 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

out-and-out beautiful, and expressive, above the brutal mug, of a 
gentle heart. Brutal the mug was, for that is the build of a 
Boston bull-terrier, l^ut there sat on it at this moment an 
individual look of almost touching innocence. Pleased with 
everybody present, he was, and modestly hopeful of being pleas- 
ing to all. 

He suddenly, at some thought, perhaps he had smelled the 
supper again, shifted his weight back and forth from one neat 
front-paw to the other, cocked his ears, one of which freakishly 
pointed toward its brother, which pointed straight up, and licked 
his chops, — from doing which his upper lip was left hitched on 
one long strong prong of the underjaw, and he looked the 
caricature of a ward politician, with hat on one ear, a big cigar 
at the comer of his mouth. This phiz he now turned in the 
direction of Camilla. His eyes, taking the light in some special 
manner, had become balls of weird green light. 

** I ask you candidly, does that look to you like a bad dog? ^' 

To Camilla he candidly looked like the most awful description 
of bad dog delirious artist had ever dreamed. She made a 
small shuddering movement, and to Mrs. Northmere's question, 
which sounded so triumphantly sure of the reply, said nothing. 
But Hiram who stood in the doorway said, "That a bad dog? 
Naw ! ^^ Cassie said, ** I think he looks real clever," and snapped 
her fingers to invite him nearer. 

" Come here to his mother, lamb," Mrs. Northmere made 
kissing sounds to attract him. He readily obeyed. He placed 
his forefeet on her black gros-grain lap, and taking his thick 
head between her hands, she found back the fond intonations of 
baby-talk to thus address him : " Was he misunderstood? Was 
he abused? Did they call that old pigeon-pot-pie a vicious 
beast and keep him chained in a stable where his angel disposi- 
tion was day by day becoming further ruined? Who gave 
him a bad name? What had he done? He was young and 
merry, and raced in great circles, barking his gladness to the 
sun, and when people cut across his circles he nipped them for 
pure joy. It was just fooling, wasnH it, babo? And then 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 171 

he bit the book agent. Who would n^t bite a book agent? 
And if a nasty bully shook a stick at him, who would n't tear 
his trousers if he could? Just for being a dog of sense and 
character and temperament they chained him up, and there he 
strained all day and tried to move their hearts, saying over and 
over he was so lonely. And they would n't have any pity . . . 
Who came, darling? Who called the foolish peoples names? 
Who said, let loose that dog, I make myself responsible for him ? 
Who said, if ever I looked into a good dog's face, that is a good 
dog? Give me that dog who is wasted on you, foolish peoples. 
It is a dog after my heart, I will no more be parted from that 
dog. Who was it said those things ? . . . Then give his mother 
a kiss I " Bending over with a slight puff of effort she offered 
her e^r, which he licked enthusiastically without stopping first 
to sniff. 

" Lilias never had any sense," she returned her conversation 
to the others, " and I am afraid Beginald will not give her any by 
contagion. They have their good points, — yes, indeed, they are 
nice people, I had a very pleasant visit with them, — but the 
justice of examining into a dog's case, as one would like to have 
a dog examine into one's own, before taking a piece out of one's 
leg, that they no more have than, say, the gift of tongues. A 
dog is a dog, and if he is a nuisance you shut him up, or beat 
him, or order him shot, when a little intelligence might draw 
out of your faulty little fellow-being — which of us is faultless? 
— his golden qualities, bring them to preponderate, and instead 
of a bunch of unhappiness yelping in a stable, or of pathetic 
waste fattening the weeds, there is a faithful littie friend guard- 
ing the house, cheering the hearth, and taking you out for 
needed exercise. Come here. Boss, let mother pet more of the 
savageness out of him. Will he promise not to chase the cat?" 

Camilla, upon retiring, realized to the full what she had at 
first been unwilling to understand, with boundless despite gauged 
the enormity of her misfortune. That animal was going with 
them, going to Europe, to travel, to be with them always. 

She sat on the edge of her bed, utterly downcast, too dis- 



172 THE TBTJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

couraged to undress^ forecastiiig with dreadful realifim what 
it would mean. It was all very well for Mrs. NTorthmere to 
determine to care for her pet herself. She had that evening 
broken up his food and prepared his sleeping-place. But Ca- 
milla, with her fixed policy of supplying to everything would 
finally be compelled to take upon herself those duties. She saw 
herself being drawn at the end of a string by that son of 
Cerberus. She would have to give him baths, possibly to be- 
sprinkle him with fiea-powder, and all the rest • • • Mate' 
detto! Maledettot 

It was not so much that she feared dogs as that she did not 
like them. And to have one about perpetually, and such a one ! 
And that Mrs. Northmere should make herself publicly ridiculous 
over him . . . Maledetto/ Verily, one might give up for less. 
As she remembered the old woman's foolish, profuse caresses, 
disgust rose in her, fiavored with a sharper spice, of jealousy. 

But our Camilla had swallowed more than one bitter cup 
before, when she had believed it would be salubrious. Bad 
as this was, it was still better than as if she had been left be- 
hind. The consolation of that thought she hugged to herself 
as she lay down to sleep. 

Next morning she too snapped her fingers, she too made 
kissing sounds. And when in his ingenuousness Boss Brady 
came, she forced her hand to touch him titiUatingly, while with 
a false smile she said, in Mrs. Northmere's hearing, " Eh hien, 
monsieur, fautM qu'on vous gratte un peuf** 



CHAPTEB VII 

WEEN Henry Morton was ordered to take a year's holiday, 
and with his daughter Alice went abroad, they settled 
down for the winter in quietest Oxford, where all would have 
been according to heart's desire had the sun consented to shine 
a little. But it was that season as if the weather had arrears 
to make up of cold, wind, sleet, darkness. So that when Mrs. 
Northmere wrote from Cannes, exalting its turquoise skies and 
sapphire sea, they let the tempting vision conquer, and joined 
her in her winter paradise. 

She was essentially unchanged. The placid power, the air of 
great reasonableness, were the same, but her hair was whiter, her 
nose, of the type physiognomists call cogitative, had still further 
broadened at the base; the wise and melancholy brown eyes, 
with the lids now sagging a little, were more than ever like 
the eyes of a good Saint Bernard dog. 

In the three years elapsed since they parted from her in New 
York, the Mortons had both written to and heard from her, 
yet when they saw standing behind her armchair, waiting with 
a faint smile for the right moment to greet them, the known 
slim black figure of Miss Gordez, both realized that they had 
somehow lost immediate sight of the fact that they should see 
her. 

They were not prepared either for the other member of the 

household, a fat white somebody who rose from a cushion on 

the floor and came to inquire of them, placing in turn against 

the hem of Morton's trouser-leg, and the bottom plait of Alice's 

dress, a moist, blunt, black nose that twitched. Alice had the 

right flavor, unmistakably. He lifted confiding forepaws to her 

173 



174 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

knee^ to solicit attention^ to make acquaintance. It came back to 
her^ like a scrap of dream, that Mrs. Northmere had told her, 
last time she bade her good-by at the steamer, that there was 
a dog of hers on board in charge of the butcher. 

When Mrs. Northmere took Morton's arm to do the honors 
of the garden to which she had lured them from the dingy 
snows and biting winds of England, the white dog followed 
her step by step. Catching sight of him as they came to a 
stop on a marble terrace above the sea, she introduced h\m^ 
before introducing them to the wonders of the view. " This is 
Boss Brady, my very dear friend ! '* Stooping a little stiflBy to 
pat his head, that writer of many sensible books spoke to him, 
without cracking a smile, "Was mother's lamb? Was best 
boy in the world? Bless his old pigeon-pot-pie heart I *' 
Straightening up a little painfully, she informed them that the 
mountains rearing their purple beauly against the sky were 
the Esterels. 

Alice's heart grew warmer and warmer during those first 
days, with a quiet joy. Certain of the things Pauline had said 
in Montreux had lodged in her mind, despite the effort to 
drive them out as too painful to admit. **That in oncoming 
old age she should have no one near her of her own ! No one 
who cares a rap about her ! " . . . She now remembered with a 
throb of gratification the superiority of her level-headed little 
sister's judgment over her own. Feeling it a little cold around 
her, as Pauline had prophesied, Mrs. Northmere had, even as 
Grace insisted she would, set hardily to work to supply the 
deficiency. And by what simple means had that profound, that 
thoroughly practical woman, provided for her want I A friend 
with whom to exchange points of view she did not need, but 
some one her heart did need to show a little gladness at her 
comings, dejection at her goings, to feel warm under her hand, 
look into her face with affection, one on whom to spend some 
of the elementary tenderness of which there was in her nature 
so much. With Camilla to serve her, and Boss a solid bunch of 
love at her feet, one could feel comforted for the future. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 176 

Because the Mortons had in New York shown her every 
courtesy^ Camilla had for them now her best smile, a readiness 
to serve them in any way she might, which showed that she 
wished them to know she had not forgotten. She was not in 
the very least changed, it seemed to them, not older by a day. 
Her beauty, to be sure, was of the gemlike rather than the 
flowerlike kind. The relation between her and Mrs. North- 
mere was apparently the same as ever, the one of them watch- 
ful, serviceable, deferent, the other appreciative, satisfied, self- 
congratulatory still on the score of the jewel she had unmined. 

One thing struck Alice as a little singular, — not at once, but 
as the days passed, — it was that there should be no greater 
effect of intimacy between them, after so long. Another thing 
she noticed, to feel it grating upon her nerves: a just per- 
ceptible shade of difference in Camilla's manner toward her em- 
ployer. It was occasionally subtly patronizing. Alice could not 
admit that this escaped her friend. If Mrs. Northmere suffered 
it, it was because she perhaps recognized it as natural, certainly 
as unimportant. 

Wonderful in its effect upon the mood, the leap without 
transition from stark midwinter to incredible, glorious, flower- 
mad spring. Camilla enjoyed those first days of the Mortons 
in Cannes. Their coming brought an increase of liveliness 
which lifted her spirits too, though she seldom went with the 
rest on their strolls in the old town, from which they came back 
with such bunches of roses, such violets and anemones, such 
fairy fagots of the delicate, furry, canary-colored mimosa ! 

The eyes of the Mortons told her, in spite of the attempt to 
veil the compliment, if such attempt there were, that they 
thought her beautifid, and that their souls praised her for her 
competent and consistent devotion to their friend. She found 
it pleasanter in their presence to ply Mrs. Northmere with those 
small attentions which she offered just as regularly when no- 
body was by. 

Alice who declared that she had found in Boss Brady her 
affinity, begged to take him for his run, later to be allowed 



176 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

to brush him^ then to attend to the changing of the water in 
his bowl. She gradually became a slave to the spoiled dog's 
most lightly expressed wish, — untiring at opening doors for him, 
as well as playing tug-of-war with an old slipper or a piece of 
stout string. Camilla let it be without a murmur, not jealous 
in this case. 

She would not have cared how long those friendly Mortons 
stayed. Her heart expanded a little, as a thing will in a ray 
of warmth, when Mr. Morton in his jocular, innocuous, boyish 
American way, set up standing certain small jokes with her, 
the final meaning of which was, innocent as they were, that she 
was a beautiful girl. It formed their sole intercourse, day 
by day, the bandying of those simple jokes, but it threw be- 
tween them a gossamer bridge of good understanding; a smile 
would flicker on her face when in solitude she planned her 
repartees. 

She had felt her heart open with this liking to be among 
people who showed her marked regard. One morning — the 
Mortons had been there about two weeks, — it closed, with a 
shot of the bolt. Mrs. Northmere had announced to the com- 
pany, "Pauline and Ploy are coming.'* 

She had received a letter from Pauline, detailing the small 
miseries of life in Paris with a landlady grudging of firewood, 
and Ploy suffering from laryngitis, and she had asked them 
both down for a whiff of the heavenly weather. 

" Pauline has explained to me," Mrs. Northmere told them, 
"what went wrong, delaying Ploy's d6but, but I confess to 
having imperfectly understood. He is now studying under a 
celebrated Prench teacher who is trying, Pauline writes *to 
work the fog out of his voice.' " 

A few days later they arrived. 

Morton decided, about this time, that his little joke had 
done duty long enough. Miss Cordez had met it with a look 
of absolute unresponse. He preferred to think she had not heard 
it, being preoccupied; it seemed prudent, though, in view of 
that cold expression, to let it quietly drop. 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 177 

Pauline was looking rather thin, rather worn, rather worried, 
but whatever her troubles she kept them to herself, and en- 
deavored bravely to share in the general humor of joyous 
frivolity by whidi these prisoners of winter, escaped into spring, 
celebrated their liberiy. 

Ploy, too, upon arriving looked as if he might have his 
troubles, but he too smiled gallantly above them. Only a few 
hours, a walk by the magical sea, were needed to smooth the 
creases from his spirit, clear the shadows from his brow. No 
one had ever perhaps been so susceptible to the enchantment 
of the place. With his hat in his hand, his face lifted for the 
breeze and the full light of heaven, he moved like one in a 
dream, or, more truly, like one who waking from a bad dream 
finds himself in a strange, surpassing new world. 

He was one of those youths whom people unhesitatingly call 
beautiful, unpopular as the word is with reference to a man. 
No other word would do. People who knew their classics re- 
membered at sight of him the exquisite fellows in ancient epics, 
who are compared to flowers and other lovely things now re- 
served for use in compliments to women. 

He looked absurdly angelic for a man, with his clear eyes 
and pure complexion, his blondness and the dimple in his chin. 
He must have been twenty-five but he appeared hardly more 
than twenty. The wretch was graceful, too. Prom the sum 
of his perfections, a mere result of them, rose an effect of 
delicate haughtiness, — which only lasted as long as he was 
silent. He was, as a matter of truth, very far from haughty. 
There were frequent disappointments at finding him, after all, 
something of a tame animal. 

One completely and peacefully happy day he had there at 
Cannes, it is pleasant to record, the first, while the impersonal 
attractions of Nature took up the whole capacity of his eyes, 
and when, in walking among paths beset with roses, watching the 
light play of the wind among palms and bamboos^ aloes and tama- 
rinds, listening to guitars and mandolins, he could remember the 
wintry hell of Paris only to be the happier that it was far away. 



178 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Mrs. Northmere, it seemed likely, found in him some echo 
of her own Northmeres. The portrait of Innesley in the 
triptych adorning her writing-table made this easy to believe. 
Still, the predilection she showed him from the first needed 
really no other explanation than that there was something 
unusually clear, ingenuous, unspoiled and likeable about 
Floy, not to mention the refreshment of his uncommon good 
looks. 

He took the marks of her partiality as the person most in- 
terested in his manners might have desired to see him do, 
recognizing privileges as such, unobtrusively grateful for favor, 
and returning affection quite naturally for affection. He waited 
on Mrs. Northmere simply and sweetly, like a noble page of 
the olden time. 

Indeed, he quite took away Camilla's occupation. She could 
not make a motion to fetch a footstool or a cushion but he 
instantly did it for her. If she went to lift anything, or to 
move Mrs. Northmere's chair into a better light, he would 
take it from her, pleading insistently, " Please ! Please ! '^ If 
Mrs. Northmere wished to descend the steps into the garden, 
he hastily held his arm. Camilla was quick, and often got 
there before him, but Mrs. Northmere would sagely refuse the 
feminine for the masculine support. He went so far one day 
as to offer to run indoors and fetch a handkerchief from her 
handkerchief case. Camilla started at once, indignantly, to do 
it herself, but he overtook her, and saying, **Do let me save 
you the steps I '* passed her in the race. And he was deft, he 
was successful, he came back with the right article from the 
right place. Often he would say, if he found her reading to 
Mrs. Northmere, "Let me read now, I fear your voice will 
tire.'' And Mrs. Northmere would say, "Yes, let Floy read." 
What did he finally invent to do, in his accursed oflSciousness, but 
place himself at his cousin's disposal to copy manuscript, say- 
ing he could decipher any writing, and wrote a particularly 
legible hand. Mrs. ITorthmere fortunately refused. " How can 
I let you go out in the rain ? " he once asked, with a voice of 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 179 

hypocritical concern, when Camilla in her waterproof was start- 
ing for the apothecarjr's, and he insisted that the prescription 
be turned over to him. She ground her teeth sometimes, from 
anger and disgust, and, just as much as she could, avoided to 
look at him, lest the cat arching its back within her should 
spit. 

The climax came one afternoon when all were assembled in 
Mrs. Northmere^s sitting-room for tea. Mrs. Northmere did 
not any more than other people like hotel tea, and Camilla, 
in her room, with spirit-lamp and private teaset, often pre- 
pared the tray for as many as wished it. She opened the 
door on this occasion and came in, bearing all the dainty 
paraphernalia. She had never been interfered with before in the 
discharge of this duty, and just to-day, when her temper had 
reached the point at which the mention of a spark might set off 
that dynamite, just to-day Floy — who had risen as he always 
did, most tiresomely, when she or any woman entered or left 
the room, though they should do it forty times an hour, — Ploy, 
seeming to think that, because the dishes rattled a bit when 
the comer of the tray accidentally brushed the doorpost, her 
hands might not be strong enough to hold it, Floy sprang to 
take it from her. 

She closed her hands on it with all her strength . . . and 
he dared to try to take it from her. 

^* Permit me ! '* he said. 

She pulled it back with a jerk, saying, ** LaUsesHnoi faire, 
je V0U8 prie/' 

''I insistl^ 

*'Ma%8 non, mais non!'* 

^ Do let me relieve you of this heavy thing I ** 

"Mais non, vous dis-je!" 

The blood had filled her face, it suddenly receded, with the 
result of making it look hotter still, incandescent. She moved 
back with her whole person, taking along the tray, and at his 
obstinate, contrary motion the cream-jug trembled, some of 
the milk was spilled. She had so far refused to look at any- 



180 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

thing so noisome, nauseating, utterly objectionable as he, beetle 
and interloper. She here lifted blazing eyes to shrivel him. 

" Why won't you, instead of waiting on Cousin Hannah, let 
me wait on you both?'* he mildly asked. 

For the space of ten seconds they looked each other in the 
eyes, the first time this had happened yet . . . then her grasp 
relaxed, and at the same moment his, so that between them the 
tray was in danger of falling to the floor. Both caught it 
simultaneously, and again looked at each other, to see how that 
point of the possession of the tray was to be settled. Camilla 
smiled a slowly deepening, beautiful, mysterious Italian smile, 
and with a bewitching little gesture let go. 

Ploy walked with the tray to the table, which Camilla had 
cleared. The others hearing a thump as he deposited it, left 
the photographs they were discussing, and approached. 

"Shall I pour?'* asked Pauline briskly. 

But Camilla had her grip already on the teapot handle, and 
as if she had been deaf proceeded to fill the cups. 

What she had seen in Plo/s eyes was, not unnaturally, her 
own reflection. But glorified as never in her life before. She 
had seen herself in those expressive mirrors as a queen, an 
enchantress, a boy's dream . . . seen herself in short as the One 
Pair Woman in the World. 

As Pauline and Alice that night wended their way to bed, 
after the evening spent with Mrs. Northmere, Pauline, whose 
door came first in the long corridor already punctuated with 
pairs of boots, said to Alice, ** Won't you come in a minute? 
It 's not late." 

*^Have you noticed?*' she asked, after they had poked the 
fire and brightened it by a pine-cone or two. 

"Noticed . . .?" 

"She's frightened. And that shows I was right long ago 
when I told you she meant to have Cousin Hannah's money." 

" But how do you know . . . ? " 

"Oh, I'll grant you such an actress doesn't show it in her 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 181 

manner^ but, my dear Alice, I can feel it, jufit as sailors feel 
an iceberg when it isn't in sight. She's terrified at Ploy's 
success with Cousin Hannah/' There was undisguised glee in 
her voice. She took a colder tone to remark, ^^I don't mean 
to say I think there 's anything in it, mind you, anything that 
need alarm her, — but I can't help being glad at her uneasiness. 
Oh, but I shoidd like to see her defeated ! " Pauline clenched 
her teeth and doubled her fists in saying this, and the good old 
stock she came from showed up in her face, with its fierce, 
fundamental honesty and its fiercer prejudices, ^^ I can't stand 
it, Alice, even on impersonal grounds, that her scheming should 
succeed. That the brazen baggage should get just what she 
set out to, pulling wool over the eyes of the best and fairest- 
minded woman in the world. But can you conceive, you, of 
Cousin Hannah's not having sized her up yet? Not seeing * 
through that bunch of falsity, and leaning on her like that 
for everything, and trusting her?" 

^^ One thing about which there can be no mistake," said Alice 
evasively, after a moment, ^* is Mrs. Northmere's liking for your 
brother. Your brother . . ." she went on, after one of tiiose 
hesitations frequent in her talk, ^' your brother . . . The change 
has already done him a great deal of good, don't you think? 
Doesn't he look to you much brighter? One might say 
happier ? " 

Pauline seized her head in her hands, as if at the return of 
painful thoughts. "Yes, yes, poor boy, thank Godl" and 
went on to talk about him, as the artful Alice had desired. In 
her mood for confidences, Pauline was franker than usual. She 
admitted at least that the fog which had risen in his voice, 
possibly from over-practice, might prove a fatal matter. 

" Oh, I must n't let myself think of it ! " she broke off, clasp- 
ing her hands in a twinge of sharp misery. " Poor Floy 1 If 
Bouhy should fail, if he's not to have his career, it means an 
oflSce-stool for him. Think of Ploy, — Floy, a clerk in a bank ! " 

** She has noticed nothing," remarked Alice to herself. And 
the day after, to make doubly sure that her secret thought was 



182 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

correct, she took a careful look at Floy while, oblivious of all 
around, he was looking at Camilla. It was in his utterly self- 
forgetful face as if he had never seen a woman before. 

She was embroidering, smooth eyelids and dark lashes shield- 
ing her from his glance. If she was aware of being stared at, 
one never would have guessed it. 

''What are we going to do?*' Alice asked herself in dismay, 
and after thinking it all over, answered despondently, '' There 
is nothing for us to del'' 



CHAPTER VIII 

FLOY, having ezcnsed himself from going with the rest^ on 
the pretext of letters to get ready for the American mail^ 
had brought his writing into the garden, and established him- 
self at a little tin table against a screen of light-green bamboos, 
just across the way from Mrs. Iforthmere's window-doors. Two 
of these doors belonged to the drawing-room, the third to Mrs. 
Northmere's bedroom. All stood open, for the air, if a little 
sharp, was sunny and full of sweetness. Certain clumps of 
lemon verbena and pots of heliotrope perceptibly helped in this. 

The others had for some time been gone, when Camilla became 
visible not far inside of Mrs. Iforthmere's chamber. The young 
man's pen, which had not gained much speed, was suspended, 
while he tried to make out how she was occupied. It was not 
difScult to see; only, it seemed so unlikely, it was so different 
from his idea of what she would be doing . . . 

She was girt with a large, plain apron, and held up on her 
left hand an old, broad-soled, flat-heeled, wrinkled walking-boot, 
which, after disencumbering it with a stiff brush from clots of 
earth, she proceeded to paint over with lustrous black, by means 
of a little sponge at the end of a wire. 

Ploy, squirming with pain, his fair face drawn with it, ad- 
vanced toward her door. " Miss Cordez, why do you do that? '' 
he cried, the protest of his whole being vibrating in his voice. 
^' In a hotel like this, where all one has to do is to put them 
outside the door ? *' 

She had raised her lovely eyebrows in cool surprise at him; 
she smiled quietly. '* I do them better ! '' 

" I have no doubt of it whatever ! " 

183 



184 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" Mrs. N orthmere likes them soft. This keeps them so/* 

" But . . . but ... I can^t bear to see you doing such things ! 
Do let me do that for you ! Do ! You shall I I will I '* 

*' Please, sir, to remain where you are. You are forbidden to 
place your foot upon even the lowest of those steps/* 

^^ I can't believe it of Cousin Hannah, that she lets you black 
her boots ! ** 

" You are right. She knows not who blacks them/* 

^' Miss Cordez, you can't imagine the uneasiness, the misery, 
that has possessed me ever since I came, to see you doing the 
things you do! That you should arrange the flowers, is one 
thing. To see you handling roses and violets, that *s all right. 
But when you polished the teakettle the other day, — I saw you 
through the half-open door — and when you shake the dust out 
of things, and when you, as now, black boots, I declare I could 
cry ! It *s all wrong, all wrong ! ** 

" One does,** said Camilla, with her little air of fortitude in 
misfortune and superiority over it, " one does what one has to 
do ! ** And the mystery of her being there, doing what she did, 
seemed more than ever great. 

" Do you know of what I think when I see you? ** asked Ploy. 
^^ I think of a princess in disguise, whom a malignant enchanter, 
or some such thing, has driven from her own dominions, or a 
spell has been cast upon her, and she is obliged to serve incognito 
for a certain number of years . . .** 

" Apollo served as a shepherd, Hercules cleaned out stables/* 

"Divinities, yes. And it was no more out of keeping than 
that you should do those boots.** 

"They are done/* She came to the doorway, and propping 
one elbow against the side, propped her brow against the arm 
so raised, and leaned, particularly graceful and neat-waisted in 
that pose. She looked down at him thoughtfully where he gazed 
up, bright-eyed, from the foot of the steps. " A princess in dis- 
guise, you say. And do you in your imagination complete the 
story, and see the victim of evil enchantment, after the day of 
labor, when all finally sleep, turn, upon the touch of midnight. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 185 

into her real self again? Cast off her disguise and come forth 
in the splendor of her birthright, with her crown and train? 
And walking in the moonlight among the flowers, tiy to forget 
the crosses and humiliations of the day? 

^' What do you mean? • • • That you come out at midnight 
and walk in the garden? '* \ 

** Mr. Floy, did I hear you say, or did I not, that you wished to 
remain behind to expedite certain letters which must catch the 
steamer on Saturday? ^^ 

**HangI . . . Tcdl me,*' he urged, *'tell me the secret. I 
have known from the first that there was one/' 

She smiled as if from infinitely above him, although there 
were but three stairs. '^Not, certainly, until I know you 
better.*' 

^We aren't cads, please remember. You can trust me.'' 

'^Oh, it is not thati" She veered to sadness, as at the 
crowding back of unhappy memories, and stood a moment in 
thought. 

*' Mr. Ploy," she again changed her tone, " if when your sister 
returns you have not written your letters, what will she do to 
you? To save you unpleasantness I will now close my door. 
N'o, it is useless to protest. I do it also to save myself, for 
should she divine that you have wasted your time witii me she 
would give me one of those black looks of hers • • . She must 
therefore not divine. Adieu." 

There was a day, not long after, when all started off for the 
antiquarian's, except Camilla, who as so often remained at home. 
Alice had pressed her to come, with more than usual persist- 
ency. Camilla had explained in a whispered aside that she 
needed such opportunities to finish Mrs. Northmere's birthday 
present. 

She brought this piece of work to the deserted drawing-room, 
and arranging herself, with her convenient little table, not far 
from the window, began doing diligent cross-stitch to a large 
square of canvas on which was already visible the greater part 



186 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

of a magnificent design of purple flowers against a white silk 
ground. 

She had, before seating herself to her task, taken a rose from 
one of the vases and fastened it in the bosom of her black 
dress. 

Less than an hour had passed, when the knock of a very 
modest visitor came at the door, and upon' her careless, '' Enr 
trez!" Floy opened it. 

" Ah ? It is you ? '* she greeted him. 

He advanced a little guiltily into the room. 

After a glance at him, she had returned her eyes to her em- 
broidery. "I hoped that something would bring you back. 
I needed to see you.^^ 

"You hoped? ... I believe I felt it, for I had an over- 
mastering impulse to walk away from the others and come 
back." 

"Without excusing yourself?" 

" Yes. I was a step or two behind. When they entered the 
antiquity shop I simply turned and came. . . . May I sit 
down?" 

" And what shall you say to them ? " 

"If any one asks, I will signify as politely as I can that 
it is none of their business." 

"You can say," Camilla helpfully offered, as she pulled out 
a length of silk from a braided skein, " that you had the nose- 
bleed." 

Ploy blushed red. "That's rather too bad. Miss Cordez. 
Pauline may have me pretty well under her thumb, but it has n't 
quite reached that point. I still call my soul my own." 

Camilla gazed, not quite understanding. Then she shrugged. 
" If you prefer a head-washing . . . WiU you take a cigarette ? " 

" Oh, thank you. How very kind." 

"There are the matches ... As I am supposed to be here 
alone, I will tell them, should they notice the odor, — I will tell 
them that I have been smoking." 

"You . . . smoke?" 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 187 



^ Now and then . . . But I forgot. Yon will have the preju- 
dice of your nation/^ 

^' I had it a minute ago^ but I rise superior to it. If you do 
it, I know it is not only proper but adorable. — Didn't you 
say/' he inquired, drawing shyly nearer, ''that you wished to 
see me?'' 

*'Yes!" the syllable, as she spoke it, foretold trouble for 
him. The better to attend to the matter in question she let her 
work lie in her lap. " You are rash and indiscreet. Monsieur 
Ploy, to a degree that amazes me. To begin with, you stare 
at me indecently, d*une fagon tout i fait inconvenante, when 
all can observe you. Then, you are much too attentive to my 
wants. You show a preference for serving me. You held my 
wrap for me yesterday, when you should have been holding 
Miss Morton's." 

" Of course I would hold your wrap I " 

''That little Miss Morton, do you make the mistake of 
supposing her blind, or stupid? From her position at the 
dining-table she can see us both. When you send me a mes* 
sage with your face, she can read it as well as I." 

"And why should I mind? Why shouldn't they all know 
that I care more for one lift of your eyebrows than the rest 
of the world put together? I must make a secret of it, you 
seem to think. What is the reason ? " 

"The name of the reason, mon cher, is Pauline." 

"Hah!" 

"You signify that you mock yourself of that reason. You 
are injudicious, I think. But if that reason is not sufficient, an- 
other reason is — my wish." 

" Your . . . your . . . your wish I But, but, but if you take 
that away from me, what, what, what do you leave me ? If I am 
never to look at you, never to go near you, never to speak to you, 
what is there for me in the world? Don't think the sight of 
pepper-trees and mimosa can supply the place of all else ! How, 
tell me, how do you want me to live, if you are going to be so 
cruel as to exact anything so unreasonable?" 



188 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

She had taken up her purple wreath again. She counted 
stitches for a little while, and as he prolonged his study of her 
face for ^an answer, she allowed the suggestion of a smile gradu- 
ally to lighten it, which grew and still grew in silent seductive- 
ness. Surely as certain flowers exude a sweet and sticky liquid 
that catches little flies, an eflSuvium was released from Camilla 
which entangled Floy's desires. 

" I know, I know,'* he cried, cheered and adoring. " You are 
not cruel, you couldn't be cruel. Beautiful women have no 
right to be, they have too much power to give pain. If you are 
taking so much away from me it is because you will give me some- 
thing to make up for it. You will, won't you? If I am to 
have no good at all from seeing you with the others, let me see 
you sometimes by yourself, like this . . ." 

"Your chair a little further, if you please. They may re- 
turn at any moment, and they enter without knocking, you 
know." 

" You see ? You see what poor comfort it is, even this ! Let 
me see you when we need n't be afraid of them . . ." 

" Yes. That is probable in the extreme. Meet me, why don't 
you say, in the garden at midnight." 

" I don't say that No. ... But yet why should n't you, after 
all, come out for a breath of air and quiet after they have gone 
to bed? What more natural, when the drudgery of the day is 
over for you, than that you should come out and rest your 
nerves from it all in the moonlight among the roses? " 

" Like the princess of the fairy story we were telling the other 
morning." 

" You meant more than to tell a fairy story. Tell me what 
you meant." 

" I will tell you, yes ... I will tell you one of these beauti* 
ful nights out in the moonlight among the roses." 

*^ You are teasing me I " 

" Not at all. Listen. When in the drawing-room all rise to 
disperse for the night, turn to where I stand and look at me. If 
I make sign by moving my eyes from side to side, as if I shook 



THE TBXTTH ABOUT CAMILLA 189 

my head^ like this^ it means no. But if I look up and then 
down, like this, as if I nodded, it means, *' Yes, I will be in the 
garden at midnight, in my crown, monsieur, and train I '' 

But she had said it only to torment him, it appeared, for, 
by the expression of her face, she took pleasure night after 
night in denying him with her eyes. The harrowed youth came 
to the bitter conclusion that the cruelty of women exceeds that of 
any tiger. Having failed in his attempts to waylay her, he in 
desperate and fractious mood resumed the habit she had repre- 
hended, trjdng by hot and somber glances to drive his reproaches 
to her heart 

He was almost astonished at the quick success of that method. 
He had practised it but a day, when her eyes went up and down 
for him, like the weighted orbs of a wax-doll. 

He was uneasy, though so overwhelmingly happy, as he waited 
in the garden, for he knew he had been bad. He was prepared 
to beg pardon, oh, so humbly. He tried to think what he should 
say to her, only to find he could not think, for excitement. 

So the minutes passed, until the fear shot through him, and 
almost stopped his breathing, that she had signaled only to dis- 
appoint him, as a punishment for his bad behavior. For he had 
been waiting a long time, it was very, very late. Of course she 
would not come. He had been a fool. 

As this conviction smote him, he left the shadow of the shrubs 
where he had been waiting to see her unclose the glass-door, 
stalked to the terrace at the end of the garden, and stared at 
the moonlit sea with eyes nearer tears than became his sex and 
age. 4 • • 

It seemed impossible that anybody could approach so softly 
he would not hear it on the gravel, but, whether the sighing of 
the sea drowned the rustle, or absorption in his troubles stopped 
his ears, certain it is he knew nothing of any person near until a 
whisper of silk, a stealing fragrance, — feminine, no mistak- 
ing it, — startled him awake . . . 

And there she stood beside him, the princess of the fairy tale. 



190 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

glimmering white vision, beautiful with smiles^ — not angry, 
not severe. His laugh was almost a sob of relief. 

A great burnous of thin white with a satin stripe covered her 
from head to hem, the hood was brought up over her hair, and 
framed her face deliciously. She seemed to be in white be- 
neath it, the suggestion was of some lovely pearl-embroidered 
robe, relict from the old order of things, before the evil en- 
chanter. In the dusk of her hood he could see white jewels in 
her ears. Her arms, which she now placed on the balustrade 
beside his, were bare to the elbow. In her hand she held a large 
dark rose. 

'* Well ? '* she asked just above a whisper. " Am I kind ? Am 
I an angel ? '^ 

" I know, I know I have not deserved it ! '* he owned, in a like 
subdued voice, all humility at once. 

"Your stratagem was successful, as you see!^' 

" Now that you have come, I will be good for the rest of my 
life!" 

" It was not my fault that I could not come before. There 
was a reason every evening until this." 

"What reason, what possible reason there could be, except 
that you have no use for me, that was what I could not make 
out." 

" I will tell you. Mrs. Northmere has lately not slept well. 
She does not speak of it to you, but a tooth has done her 
wrong. . . . Why do you laugh ? " 

" Oh, I love you ! I love you ! You speak English ten times 
better than any of us, and then you come out suddenly with 
something one would pay for. Do you say her tooth has done 
her wrong?" 

"Ah. Do I do it often?" 

" Just often enough." 

" I know, well enough, how that should be expressed. Mrs. 
!N'orthmere has had an aching tooth. It is that sometimes I go 
fast and do not think." 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 191 

'* Don't think ! Tell me in your beautiful English, nicer than 
anybody else^ all the things I want to know/' 

^* Tell you of myself, you mean? Of my life? '' 

" Yes. You promised you would when you knew me better. 
How much better can you know me ? I am in your hands to pick 
to pieces like an artichoke.'' 

*' Shall you merit my confidence?" 

^^ I can merit nothing, that 's settled. But I want with all 
my soul and senses to know." 

"You wiU not teU what I shall tell you?" 

'^ Not to save my life." 

" To begin, then, you divined rightly that I am not what I 
appear to be, — that is to say, what persons without penetration 
believe I am. Mrs. Northmere's companion, they never doubt, 
is a woman of humble station who, without resources, without 
future, has chosen this manner of earning her bread." 

" People are very superficial, of course." 

" My secret, which has not been an entire secret to you, is that, 
as you supposed, I am not those things. — My parents," she be- 
gan her story in a special little tone, just a trifie, involuntarily, 
as if she read it from a book, " my parents were persons of great 
family, my mother titled, my father of high distinction. My 
infancy was spent in luxury and happiness. Though my mother 
had died at my birth, so was I surrounded with affection that I 
hardly at that tender age could realize my loss. But fortune, 
alas, is variable. My widowed father, in his melancholy, sought 
the distraction of play, — of gambling, you know, — acquired 
that vice, and had lost in those pernicious pastimes the greater 
part of our substance when a cruel distemper seized him, and 
I was left, still a child, deprived as well of my natural pro- 
tectors as of the fortune which should have been my inher- 
itance." 

"Perhaps it will sadden you too much to speak of these 
things. I realize, rather late, that I ought not to have asked 
you." 

" Ah, n*importel ... I was still not to be altogether pitied. 



192 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

for my father upon dying had left me^ with the last remnants 
of his patrimony, in the charge of a friend, his dearest friend 
in life^ a man of great means and position, whom we will 
call . . • Count della Bocca. This man, my guardian, gave me, 
according to my poor father's wishes, an education befitting my 
birth/' 

'*I8 there any accomplishment you haven't. Miss Cordez?" 

''My schooldays ended, I was taken into the family of the 
... we will call them Delia Bocca, to live with them until a 
suitable marriage should have been arranged for me. Ah, they 
were happy days ! " 

She was silent a moment, thinking of those happy days, and 
Ploy was sjnnpathetically silent too. 

''The vast enclosed garden with statues and fountains," she 
took up, dreamily, " where I played with my adoptive sisters the 
games suitable to our age, shuttle-cock and battledore, les cer- 
ceava, — what is that? . . . the hoops! The terrace where we 
sat in the cool of the evening and sometimes sang. . . ." (Well 
for Camilla she did not have to show Floy that she could sing. 
Well also for Ploy, who, as she spoke, saw floating before his 
imagination pictures which affected him like sweet harmonies.) 

"On a certain day in the week — it was Saturday, I re- 
member well, — there would come a host of beggars to our caiV' 
cello, all the lame, the blind, the one-eyed, from a mile around, 
and the daughters of the house, I among them, had the joy of 
relieving their necessities, giving to these — habits, to those — 
physics, and to all money and good words." 

Camilla lifted her rose to inhale while gathering her thoughts 
together. She continued after a pause, " The Countess was kind 
to me as a mother, made no difference between her own chil- 
dren and me. Should you not have thought, as I did at the 
time, that I might look for a happy and peaceful life? " 

Ploy's answer seemed to himself, even as he made it, to be 
in a different key, and slightly flat. " I should certainly have 
thought so." 

" The Countess, as I told you, was to me as a mother. The 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 193 

misfortunes of my life had their rise in the fact that the County 
her husband and my guardian, . • . did not feel toward me like 
a father ! '' 

She inhaled her rose again, at some length* 

** I was not quick in my innocence to perceive this/* she re- 
sumed presently, not without perceptible effort. " When the hor- 
rible truth was forced upon me, judge of my perplexity, my an- 
guish, my despair I To whom could I turn for counsel, refuge ? 
Not to my adoptive mother, as you will appreciate. An oppor- 
timity arose at this time for a good marriage, and that seemed 
a solution, an escape. But the Count, in his wicked humor, 
found reasons for refusing that excellent party, and the suitor 
withdrew, — deeply offended, I afterwards learned.'* 

"How awfully strange it all sounds,** Floy murmured, pass- 
ing his hand over his forehead. **It's so different from our 
ways of doing. . . .** 

*^ Day by day after this I felt myself less safe. What to do ? 
Where to go ? My prayers for succor were finally heard. I had 
the inspiration to leave that dangerous palace secretly and flee 
to Florence where lived the family of my halia, the woman, you 
know, who kept and nourished me for the first year of my Hfe, 
as is the custom in my coimtry. There I remained hidden for 
some months, and then, as I had nothing, and would not be 
longer at charge of those kind people, I changed my name, adopt- 
ing theirs, and began the life of honorable labor which ended 
in Mrs. Northmere taking me . . .** 

•^ But did n*t they look for you ? Did n*t the police ...?** 

" Ah, now you ask me what I do not know. All I can say is 
that I was never discovered. One of the sorrows of my exist- 
ence, one which wakes me in the night to weep over it again and 
again, is the thought of the Countess, so good to me, who must 
be thinking of me . . . what ????!!!! Often I have resolved to 
write her, always finally renouncing the intention, lest it offer 
an indication, a clue. And what after all could I say, since my 
lips must be sealed on the subject of her husband*s turpitude?** 

" What a sickening affair ! ** 



194 THE TKUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" Do you wonder that I am often sad ? " 

He bent and taking her hand raised it gently to his lips. She 
remembered a thing she had often observed, but again lost sight 
of, that Americans are prudish compared with Italians, and she 
almost regretted not having made herself interesting by an ex- 
purgated narrative. 

" And now forget it all ! '* she exclaimed, with a gaiety ob- 
viously forced. " Let us forget it, the two of us, and admire the 
beauty of the moon, breathe the freshness of the night a mo- 
ment, then part, to meet again to-morrow when I shall be the 
humble secretary in her black frock, whose secret is that she 
might have continued in splendor and afiSluence but that life 
without honor was repugnant to her." 

"Thank you for trusting me," he said. 

" Come ! " By a gesture she cast care to the winds, ^ I have 
made myself almost weep for you, do you now make me laugh ! " 

" I suppose I could make you laugh by telling you just how 
I feel!" 

" Tell me, and make me laugh." 

" Give me that rose then, will you, which I believe smells by 
this time not of itself but you, like the wreath in a song I 
sing. . . ." He begged for it with his hand. 

" Non, monsiew!" 

" Please ! " 

He reached for it, she held it high. 

'^Do let me have it, you can^t think how Fll treasure it!** 

As he raised his hand to capture it, she with a whispered 
laugh threw her arm quite above and behind her, by this move- 
ment displacing her hood, and her head stood exposed, in its 
clear bronze-firm beauty, to the showering whiteness of the 
moon. . . . Only for a few seconds. With a sudden clutch on 
his arm to bid him be still, "There is somebody!*' she whis- 
pered, and hurriedly drew up her hood. It took her but a mo- 
ment to decide upon her course. " Come not with me. Adieu ! ** 
He felt the rose thrust into his hand, and saw her glide, with lit- 
tle more noise than a fairy, by a devious path toward the house. 



CHAPTER IX 

ALICE said to her father in the morning, " I want to speak 
with you, papa. Bring your cigar out on the terrace/* 

He thought he detected a shade of trouble in her face. 

"I am worried,'* she began, when they leaned side by side 
on the balustrade, where other arms, one pair of them warm 
and bare, had leaned in the night just past. ^' There are things 
going on which I do not like. Have you noticed anything?** 

" Child, I have noticed many things. Which particular thing 
don*t you like?** 

" Ploy*s being in love with Camilla, papa.** 

"Ho, ho! He*8 in love with her, is he? I don*t wonder 
at it, in the least. But how do you know ? ** 

'*I didn*t have to be told, dear. I guessed it very early. 
Then I thought I might have made a mistake. But now I 
know for sure. They meet out here in the garden in the middle 
of the night. I came upon them by chance.** 

" And what were you doing in the garden in the middle of the 
night, if I may ask?** 

"I remembered after I was in bed that book, The Tragic 
Muse, which Mrs. Iforthmere lent me, a presentation copy, in a 
special binding. I was reading it out here. How I came to 
leave it on the garden seat I can*t imagine. But after I had 
started thinking how it might get stolen or rained upon, of 
course I could n*t sleep, and to end the worry got up and dressed 
and let myself out through the reading-room, where the night- 
porter would n*t bother me. Just because it was so late, I 
thought I should n*t meet anybody. When I came near this 
terrace, I saw two figures with tiieir backs toward me, who 

195 



196 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

hadn't heard me come. I thought they might be any two 
lovers, and stood still a minute bracing up to try to slip back 
without attracting their notice. . . . Then they began fooling 
over a rose, he tr3dng to take it and she to keep it from him, dur- 
ing which amiable strife I caught sight of her face, as well as 
recognized his voice, that veiled tenor, so impossible to mistake. 
I succeeded, I think, in creeping away without their hearing 
me. ... I'm afraid there's no mistake about it, papa. Ploy 
is fast in the clutches of that . . ." 

"That what, Alice? What do you know against Miss Cor- 
dez?" 

" Nothing, I own it. I know nothing against her whatever ! 
And yet that Ploy should fall in love with her seems to me a 
misfortune. It is all that we don't know about her, papa. 
Can't you feel how different she is ? " 

"What I feel, my dear, is that if Ploy can get her, he's a 
mighty lucky fellow. Ploy has n't much character, she 'd be the 
making of him." 

" Oh, I know you like her. I like her myself, in a way. But 
to see that nice boy fall her victim — for Floy is nice, though 
all this clandestine business, I must say, gives one new views 
upon that particularly fresh, ingenuous, maidenly air of his ! — 
I can't help it, papa, it frightens me for him. That she set 
her cap for him, I have no doubt. She imagined her inter^ 
ests lay in that direction." 

"If I understand what you mean, — wouldn't it simplify 
matters if they did marry?" 

" Simplify them, oh, yes ! But at a risk I should hate to see 
Ploy take ! " 

"Your feminine instinct, my child, gives you a light upon 
this subject which is denied to plain masculine intelligence. I 
should say it would be the best thing in the world for both." 

". . . Think of Pauline, if she knew it ! It has been a mat- 
ter of marvel to me that she has not seen a thing. If she had, 
we should have known it. One does n't like to think of the fuss 
Pauline would make if her eyes were opened. What has kept 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 197 



them blinded^ I suppose^ is her absorbed watching of his prog- 
ress in their cousin^s good graces/' 

" There 's one blessing Floy would miss, if he married, — his 
sister's gentle rule/' 

^* She is really devoted to him, papa, worships him. . . . Now, 
dearest, I have n't told you all this just because I could n't keep 
it, and must tell somebody. I have come to you for advice." 

"My advice is, imhesitatingly, ^Let it alone 1* You aren't 
supposed to know what goes on in the garden after midnight. 
Floy is of age, Camilla as well able to take care of herself as any 
young lady I know. All points toward the wisdom of letting 
them work it out in their own way, imdisturbed." 

"But don't you think it would be only friendly to let Mrs. 
Northmere know?" 

" ' Brabantio 1 Ho, Brabantio ! ' eh ? " 

" She is short-sighted, you know, and her mind taken up with 
all sorts of important thoughts. It doesn't seem quite fair 
somehow to watch this thing going on right under her nose and 
not give her the smallest hint." 

"What could she do about it, if they are in love with each 
other?" 

"I don't know, dear. But she would know, if she should 
happen to think that something ought to be done about it." 

"My child, I repeat, 'Let it alone 1' This is in a way no 
more Mrs. Northmere's business than it is yours or mine, and 
I see no excuse for carrying tales. ... It will be a lovelier night 
tiian the last. The moon is nearer full. Don't leave your book 
in the garden again, my dear, unless you wish to see high jinks. 
By the way, did you find it? Was it all right?" 

The evening before the excursion to Antibes was long re- 
membered by them all, though not in every case for the same 
reasons. Even Boss Brady probably remembered it, and in 
after years when, lying by the fire, his face without apparent 
reason rippled with flitting expressions, he was very likely think- 
ing, " Ah, yes, that good old ev^iing, during the First-Period- 



198 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

when-tihere-were-Two-who-kissed-my-SatinrStubs-of-EaTB, that 
happy evening when there was so much talk about me^ and my 
fights were celebrated, and my praises spoken, by The-One-who- 
came-and-f reed-me-f rom-the-Chain ! '* 

Alice's memory preserved the evening in a golden shrine, like 
a precious thing. For never, it seemed to her, had Mrs. North- 
mere been so quintessentially Mrs. Northmere. 

Henry Moln, when he came to write his Uterary Memoirs, 
spoke of it too, that evening in Cannes, when Mrs. Northmere 
was in such great form, and gave her whole opinion of several 
contemporary events. 

Ploy remembered it only too clearly, but not on account of 
social privilege enjoyed, and Camilla remembered it for still 
other reasons than any of the rest. Pauline was the only one 
who did not remember the evening itself, except in a general 
way, as precursor of the day on which she discovered that Cousin 
Hannah was decidedly queer. 

They were gathered, as usual after dinner, in Mrs. North- 
mere's drawing-room. She sat in her armchair, near a door 
partly open on to the garden. Boss, the old baby, much too 
large and heavy for a lap, had yet managed to hoist himself up 
on her knees, and with a sigh of contentment settled his head 
on her arm. She good-humoredly held her hands clasped about 
him, to keep him from sliding off. The others sat around her, 
Floy, rather girlishly, at her feet. 

They were nearly in darkness, for the lamp stood at the far 
end of the room, and the moon was on the other side of the 
heavens. Where the shadow of the house stopped, the garden 
lay in a quiet silver bath. In this romantic twilight Mrs. 
Northmere talked. 

It began, somewhat foolishly, by her saying, as in stroking 
Boss's fur her hand met his scars, " Boss has the perfect attitude 
toward a fight, as I consider. 'Do you want to fight?' *No, 
sir,' says Boss, 'I don't want to fight, but I will fight!' and 
he does his best to make the other dog sorry he would n't con- 
sent to be friends. A dog-fight is to me the most horrifying 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 199 

thing in the worlds and yet if Boss were to cross the street at 
sight of an enemy, pretending he had n't seen him, as very re- 
spectable dogs will sometimes do, thus saving me the unpleasant- 
ness of seeing my baby's coat ix)m, as well as of breaking my 
umbrella, I own I should feel mortified, hurt in my mother- 
pride. But thaf s not what My Own does I . . /' She squeezed 
him till he grunted. "Who said Big Dogs? Who said, *Let 
Shaky Baker say South Marshfield bdongs to him, and 1 11 eat 
him 1 ' Who said, * Let Covey Gushman say dogs under seventy 
pounds is no good, and 1 11 learn him ! ' Who said to the black 
Markee, with bracelets and mustachios, 'If by your airs you 
mean to say, monseer, that I 'm not a gentleman, I 'm the Bos- 
ton Terror, lemme tell you that I * '* 

Boss in excitement struggled from her arms and dashed out 
of the door to search the garden for Big Dogs. After a time he 
came back, panting. His mistress was in the midst of the epic 
of his battles. He settled modestly at her feet, his muzzle 
warm on her shoe. When his name ceased altogetiier to recur, 
his eyebrows stopped their sensitive twitching, he went to sleep. 

From battles of dogs she slid into other battles, relating a 
great, nearly forgotten law-case of her early days, full of strange 
incidents and coincidences. Then, by some association, to the 
tale of a lonely night on the farm, in the first year of her mar- 
riage, when Dumonde had driven to a distant town on business ; 
her danger from a drunken farmhand who had been discharged, 
and coming back deadly sober late at night tried to frighten 
her. But the husband unexpectedly returned. Then the story 
of her first novel, — not the first time Mrs. Northmere had 
given that story to one or two of her audience, but never did 
she tell with so much amenity about the counti^-girl in brown 
cotton gloves entering the office of the great publishing house 
with her manuscript under her arm. And then, as the real 
climax to that story, the famous First Night of Trecaim she 
told. 

None of the others apparently cared to speak. Only Henry 
Morton would now and then by a question or a remark call 



200 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

forth further talk from her. He endeavored to keep her on 
the personal note, and she let his friendly art succeed. Alice 
appreciated retrospectively the greater than usual expansive- 
ness toward them all which marked Mrs. Northmere's humor 
that night; recognized a something testamentary, as it were, in 
her giving them so much to remember of her. 

The last thing, Mrs. Northmere addressed herself for a space 
singly to Floy. The graceless boy had to bring back his 
thoughts with effort to answer her, with effort bring back his 
eyes from the shadowy corner where he could just distinguish 
the pale oval of a face. Upon finishing, Mrs. Northmere 
smoothed his hair with a motherly touch, as simply as she 
patted Boss, and Alice who all that evening, while listening to 
the seasoned, mellow talk had felt miserably, repulsively young, 
Alice imagined, seeing her do it, that she found it in her heart 
to be gently sorry for, as well as gently amused at, anything 
so pathetically young as Floy. 

In the fervor of reminiscence the talker had carelessly swept 
her hand across her forehead, pushing back the hair which 
she wore decently lowered to conceal its formidable size. Alice, 
struck by it, wondered whether Dumonde and Adriance an(J 
Innesley might not have had in them, like Floy, something of 
feminine uncertainty, weakness and charm, making appeal to 
this man-browed woman. 

They were to start early for Antibes. Eight after coffee in 
their own rooms, so it had been planned, they should meet at the 
hotel entrance. 

Morton and Alice, Pauline and Floy, were gathered there, 
waiting for the other two, — the carriages stood at the door, — 
when porters, hurriedly asking passage-way, carried past them 
and heaped upon the hotel omnibus two sizable black oil- 
cloth trunks, a smaller trunk of leather, a canvas hold-all, 
a tiQ despatch box, and a bundle of rugs stuck full of um- 
brellas. On the heels of the porters came Mrs. Iforthmere, 
right briskly for her, preceded by Boss, straining on his leather 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 201 

leader. Camilla followed discreetly^ with handbag and dress- 
ing-case. They were in traveling costume. 

" I remembered it in the night/' Mrs. Northmere said, with 
the bright look and bright voice that so greatly ease farewells, 
^^it came to me like a lightning flash that the Bembrandt 
Exposition at Antwerp closes on Saturday, this very next Sat- 
urday. In your charming society I had forgotten all about it. 
Not in my lifetime will such a feast be served up again. You 
will forgive me, I know, my dears, for running oflE in this 
unceremonious way. H. S., may I have a word with you ? ** 

Morton followed her aside for a minute^s conversation. Three 
of the other four were left staring. Alice, her heart clutched 
unexpectedly by a dreadful pang of parting, got down on the 
floor to take leave of Boss, say good-by to satin ears and faith- 
ful eyes and the brown spot on his shoulder. 

Floy, who had spent a sleepless night, was looking wild heart- 
struck inquiry at Camilla. Her eyes the evening before had 
promised to be at the tryst, and he had stood for hours in a 
thin sea-fog, wondering why the light burned so late in Mrs. 
Northmere's room. It finally went out, but his princess did not 
come. He now could not trust himself to speak, — even if he 
had cared to, with his sister standing by. 

Pauline's foremost thought was, '*How awfully quser of 
Cousin Hannah I '' and indignation at being treated like that 
tried to make its way through other confused and contending 
feelings. To express her disapproval somehow, she looked at 
Camilla, with a face that roundly demanded an explanation. 

Camilla could not be attending to Floy's imploring eyes, for 
the duty of standing up to Pauline. With a fine, ironical, 
quietly triumphant and slightly scornful look she met her. 
Pauline would have been truly astonished to know how sincerely 
she was regarded in that quarter as a dangerous intrigante, 
happily defeated. 

" Hadn't we better say good-by?" Floy approached, holding 
out a cold hand. 

'' Mais non! Let us say Au Bevoir ! " Camilla replied sweetly. 



202 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

and along with her warm hand gave him a glance to remem- 
ber forever, all man could wish in the way of a glance. She 
found it easy to look volumes of tender regret, furiously happy 
as she felt at her escape from the necessity to drink the cup 
of crystal water that he was. 

" Now be sure you enjoy your day at Antibes,** Mrs. North- 
mere said agreeably, returning among them. "Good-by, my 
dears, good-by. Alice, Pauline, Floy . . .^* She kissed them 
all impartially. As she looked at Alice, a spark of laughter 
leaped in the depths of her good sad eye, ^* Alice, you are a 
sweet girl to love my dog. But we shall lose our train, if we 
aren't careful. Come, Camilla.^' 

Camilla followed. Could those who followed her with their 
eyes have interpreted the expression of her back, they would 
have read in every subtle line the proud and satisfied conscious- 
ness, " She suspected something, and when it came to a choice, 
she set you all to one side^ and took mel^^ 



CHAPTEE X 

CAMILLA had been with Mrs. Northmere for seven full 
years when the suspicion dawned^ which gradually became 
a conviction^ that the lad/s mind was not what it had been. 

This perception roused two distinct feelings, only apparently 
incompatible; one of sadness, as when the wind of autumn 
shrieking under the doors warns us that all must die, and 
stirs pity in us for the falling leaves; the other of feverish 
gladness^ as when in winter a stray bird-note reminds us of a 
good time coming, when earth will break into new bloom and 
the band play on the green. 

Had Camilla known how much she was mistaken I Not a 
decrease, but an increase of mental energy it was which had 
all the symptoms of incipient senile dementia 1 Mrs. North- 
mere had, without thinking it worth mentioning, returned to 
making poetry. Her Memoirs having been brought up to date, 
had been laid aside for the last chapters, which she hoped she 
should have lucidity to write, and suddenly an inward necessity 
had pressed her to find beautiful garbs of words for moods and 
impulses which the ready-made things of other poets did not fit. 
Deep gratitude moved her that the Muse, who in her hard- 
driven days had forsaken her, should have consented to come 
back at last and lend to her decline the sweetness of a second 
youth. 

The poet at work would stare vacantly ahead and not answer 
when spoken to. When drawn from her trance, she would seem 
to come back from very far. She had ludicrous lapses, dis- 
tractions ; moved her lips sometimes without sound, or her fingers 
without reason, as if she were counting. These things she was 

203 



204 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

likely to do at any time, during meals, walks, in railway-car- 
riages. Had she worked at her proper desk, Camilla would have 
understood, but the old writer^s desk at tihis time was chiefly 
inside her head. 

Almost inevitably Camilla fell into the way of relying a little 
upon this weakening of her friend^s faculties, — oh, to no im- 
portant extent, — only to find that it was with her absence of 
mind as it is with certain people's deafness, they hear the very 
things you intend they should not. 

But Camilla certainly did not believe that Mrs. Northmere 
had noticed Elaguine. 

The episode of Elaguine began very vulgarly. They were 
traveling from Venice to Milan, the three, in a first-class car- 
riage, by the evening train. Mrs. Northmere occupied one 
window-corner, Camilla the comer opposite her, with her back 
to the engine, and a stranger the other comer on Mrs; North- 
mere's side. 

When Camilla had done everything to make her comfortable, 
Mrs. Northmere composed herself for a nap. Camilla, after 
tiring her eyesight over the small print of a paper, laid it 
down and looked out of the window, seeing but a fugitive light 
now and then in the racing night, but steadily, in the black 
window-pane, the reflection of the compartment: light buff 
cushions dimly illumined by the high swimming central lamp, 
and, in faint colors, herself, with, beyond her, in his far corner, 
the stranger. He also had laid down his paper, the light was 
really too bad. He pushed himself squarely into his padded 
corner, threw one knee over the other, clasped his hands before 
him, and half closed his eyes, which being turned straight 
ahead were directly upon Camilla. 

She had taken in his appearance as soon as he got on the 
train, to flnd him not very interesting. An Jiomme du monde, 
neither handsome nor ugly, — tired eyes, tired lines, pale and 
a little flaccid. Nothing weak about that fatigue, however, it 
came from having seen too much of life with those dispassionate 
lightish eyes, rather than having lived too hard. His mustache 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 206 

was twisted to needle-points, his imperial cut in a sharp V^ 
and on his forehead — which was wide rather than high, as 
his face altogether was rather wide than long, — a faint lock 
of black silk lying lifelessly. Not an Italian, she could tell; 
a Frenchman, she thought, from his dress, distinguished by a 
certain elegant research: white waistcoat with pearl buttons, 
cuff-links plain but rich, — cat's eyes clasped in gold, a monocle 
dangling upon his breast by a silk cord. 

She supposed that he was dozing, and turned to amuse her- 
self by examining him more closely, — a way li^e another of 
getting rid of the time, — to realize that he was fixedly, and, 
as she promptly characterized it, impertinently, looking at her. 
When he saw tiiat she saw it, he did not close or withdraw his 
eyes, he went on calmly looking, as if that had been what she 
was there for. He threw no expression into his unsmiling eye 
and somewhat pasty face, but, simply, the light being bad and 
the road long, treated himself to the entertainment of staring 
at a pretly woman, first because there is always a certain pleasure 
in looking at beautiful cheeks, and then the fun of seeing 
what they will do. 

Camilla was used to men's stares, they at bottom neither 
offended nor alarmed her ; but it is not in nature to sit passive 
for long under that description of fire. She got up, reached 
for something in the net, wet her handkerchief with Cologne 
and refreshed herself by sniffing it. As he still did not desist, she 
completely averted her face, and devoted herself again to looking 
out at the window, black mirror in which her neighbor could be 
seen pursuing his study of her back hair and the nape of her 
neck. She turned finaUy and gave him a straight hard look for 
his pains, a look intended to put him in his place ... It did 
nothing to him, nothing; he only blinked when he found it con- 
venient to do so for the comfort of his eyes. She dismissed 
him then from the horizon, lifted her arms to her hair to take 
out certain pins and replace them more securely; patted her 
locks and ordered them ; with her perfumed handkerchief dusted 
her cheeks before a tiny mirror from her dressing-case. His 



206 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

eyes catching hers again, he widened and rounded them at her, 
as who should try to speak without opening his mouth. She 
paid no heed. She found a rose-colored wisp to wind around 
her neck against the draught from the window-crack, curled up 
in her corner, settled her head with a little sigh on the cushion, 
and addressed herself to sleep, twice as charming in that posture 
as before. Let him look now, he could no longer incommode 
her. She hoped she had shown him the case she made of his 
rude staring. 

She was actually dropping oflE, when a thought startled her. 
Perhaps he was a thief. He had none too good a face. She 
decided to simulate sleep merely, and keep watch over the roba. 
She stole a glance at him through her lashes. He was asleep, too, 
— that is, unless he, too, were pretending. 

When she was taking down the shawl-strap from overhead, as 
they steamed into the Milan station, he made haste to assist 
her, and in doing it placed his hand audaciously over her own. 
Disgusted at the contact, she rejoiced to think that this at least 
would be the end of the adventure. But no, when they had 
climbed into their hotel omnibus he climbed in too, and a man, 
his valet obviously, climbed after him. 

It all looked rather dim and distant after the good sleep of 
the night. Things happen, scenes change so fast, in traveling, 
that they end by making little impression. Camilla was an old 
traveler now. 

She went down next morning as was her habit to have a de- 
sirable table reserved for them. The one of her first choice, 
near the window, where everything could be seen outdoors and 
in, was already bespoken, the head-waiter regretfully told her, 
bespoken for Prince Elaguine. She selected the next best, the 
one nearest to it. Then they went forth to visit Cathedral 
and Brera, for whose sake they were stopping over the day. 
Coming in late for lunch they sat down in their hats, 
c^ And there, facing Camilla, at the table which she had been 

ligL 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 207 

told was kept for the Bussian prince^ sat the man of the railway 
carriage, his good bottle of Bordeaux before him. 

All was explained, — the fine grain, and the insolence. 

He had no doubt seen her take her place, but he was not staring 
to-day, nor did he appear in any way eager to continue the 
game of yesterday night. When he looked over, it was no more 
pointedly than a gentleman looks at a woman of his own class. 

Mrs. Northmere was cutting the meat off her chicken-wing, 
and expressing herself upon the Marriage of the Virgin. Ca- 
milla while doing her part in the conversation, was making her- 
self as well worth looking at as she could. One special little 
expression she had in her collection which she had never f oimd 
to fail of its effect. It was the look of a lovely pussy-cat high 
in a tree above a frantic barking dog. That look, of feeling so 
supremely and happily and scornfully safe, would keep any 
normally constituted canine on the jump, in the vain and mad 
resolve to get her somehow off her branch. 

She dressed for dinner that evening, as much as a traveler can ; 
she put a lace thing around her ^eck. 

The Prince could not very well help looking at her, their 
table was so directly in front of him. The desire to pursue the 
adventure further came gradually into his eye. Were one an 
oyster, a pussy-cat should not look in one's presence exactly 
like that. The road between Milan and Paris is long, one en- 
livens it as one can. 

They were again in the hotel omnibus together next morn- 
ing, on their way to the same train. It was a carriage with a 
corridor they found, and they took seats in different compart- 
ments. But when Camilla, fatigued with keeping in one place, 
went after several hours to stand at one of the windows in the 
passage-way and get a different view of the Alps, in a minute 
some one was beside her, looking out from the window next to 
hers. She was partly visible from the compartment she had 
left, not so the Prince. 



208 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" It appears that we are going the same way/' he said, through 
the rumble of the wheels. 

"We shall not go the same way much further/' she replied 
severely, between pinched lips, '*if you persist in your indis- 
cretions 1 '* 

" How unfair ! What other way has a stranger of expressing 
the profound interest wherewith you inspire him ? '' 

**The liberty you take of expressing your interest, whether 
as earlier or at this moment, sidQQciently indicates that you are 
mistaken in the sort of person I am/' 

"Be just, Madame! ... I had supposed you, inevitably, to 
be a woman well accustomed to the tribute of admiration from 
men." 

There was a rustle near. Camilla's face of dignified dis- 
pleasure flashed to him a warning which made them accomplices. 
He quietly turned his back and without haste reentered his 
compartment. 

"I think I will stand out here for a few minutes," said 
Mrs. [N'orthmere, " one gets very tired of sitting still." 

At the hotel in B&le that night a gentle tap brought Camilla to 
her door. The maid handed a note, which Camilla laid down 
unread, to attend to later. " I had rung for other towels/' she 
explained to Mrs. Northmere who was getting ready for bed 
in the next room. " Had I not better have asked, perhaps, for 
other blankets, too?" 

When Mrs. Northmere was bestowed, her light out and the 
door closed between their rooms, Camilla opened the billet. 

"A stranger, wounded by your words to-day," she read, 
"respectfully begs the favor of a moment's conversation, that 
he may learn from yourself how you may be approached, and 
what steps must be taken in order to make your acquaintance 
with all proper formality. He will humbly follow any sug- 
gestion, except that he should smother his desire to see you 
more and know you better. He waits for you in the reading 
room." Signed, Oonstantine Elaguine. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 209 

She hesitated, but not seriously. 

Though it was late when she slipped down, an Englishman 
was still there writing letters, besides the Prince who came for- 
ward with the correct empressement, and behind the islander's 
back devoutly kissed her hand, sajring at once, "Will you not 
come into my salon on the first floor? We can hardly talk 
here/' 

But Camilla smiled a smile wise as the old Serpent, and re- 
plied, " Oh, I think not I For the time I shall remain . . /' 

She seated herself on the sofa, lightly as a bird who perches 
but for a moment, and he took the other end, hardly hiding 
his puzzlement. 

" It is very good of you to come,** he murmured. 

" Not at aU. I wished to avoid a continuation of your em- 
barrassing homage, by explaining the situation at once. As for 
your desire to obtain a regular presentation to us, I am sorry to 
say that no such thing is possible.'' 

"A severe blow to my hopes . . . which it seems however 
that a little goodwill on your part, had I the good fortune to 
deserve it . . ." 

" The situation is peculiar. My dear godmother is of a strange 
humor. When she took me seven years ago and named me her 
heiress, it was understood that I should assume all the duties of 
a daughter toward her. My own parents had died. My father, I 
must tell you, was an ItaJian, my mother American. It was 
one of those marriages, not uncommon in these days, to which 
the one side brings fortune and the other a great name. But, 
as is also but too common, the name ate up the fortune! So 
that my godmother in taking me not only gave her protection to 
an orphan, but a nearly penniless girl, and my return must be 
in some proportion to the benefit. Wherefore, though it has 
cut me off from the opportunities usual at my age, I am resigned, 
and determined, while marraine lives, to give my exclusive care 
and thoughts to her. I must tell you as well that she demands 
this, will not hear of marriage for me, frowns upon the smallest 
attention offered me by a man, and says that since her death will 



210 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

make of me a brilliant parti, I can wait until that time, paying 
for it meanwhile in advance by making life sweet to her. And 
I find it not unjust/' 

** But rather hard on your adorers/' 
" My thought, I confess, is not chiefly for them/* 
^' The best that one could hope then, according to these terms, 
would be to worship from afar, catching such glimpses of you 
as one could, and perhaps a word or two with you sometimes, 
like this . . /* 

^^ Begard this, I pray you, as distinctly an exception I '* 
'* Until the hour of freedom struck for you, when one might 
hope to pay his court in due form, five or ten years hence per- 
haps ... A very sour prescription. Mademoiselle, a very hungry 
diet.'' 
*^ The best I have to offer, sir I " She rose. 
" Go not so soon at least. The godmother sleeps." 
*' Not very deeply. She has a little bell at hand to ring when 
she desires my presence. It may be tinkling now." 

*'That you deigned to come to this rendezvous encourages 
me to hope you will not expel me altogether from memory, and 
that wherever we meet again it will not be again as strangers, 
though we may have to wear the face of such. Permit me to 
accompany you . . ." 

They passed down the hall, up the stairs, where the lights had 
been lowered for the night. As they came to a half-open door, 
bright within, giving a glimpse of gilt chairs and silk table-cover 
beneath a chandelier, he stopped, and stopped her by taking 
possession of her hand. **Will you not enter for a moment? 
Give me this mark of confidence, come. There is a bottle of 
champagne in the ice, I think. You are not a school-girl. Gome 



in." 



Camilla felt a flash of daring fire her cheek. She would have 
liked to go, for the fun, the festivity, the flattery of a prince. 
And then the satisfaction of curiosity. As for risk, she felt 
herself a match for Elaguine, little taller than she. But the 
old Prudence that kept watch over Camilla resurrected for 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 211 

her safeguarding a scrap of rnnsiy knowledge gotten with her 
blood from her grandmothers, — that a man is always stronger 
than a woman. She shook her head at the Prince in smiling 
and sarcastic denial, before he had so much as perceived that 
she hesitated. 



CHAPTER XI 

^ A BEMABKABLE woman for her age,** observers had 
jtV long been saying of Mrs. Northmere, while with 
vigor imperceptibly diminishing she indulged her passion for 
seeing the works of man and of Nature. Her health had not 
been excellent for years, nor had she much system in caring 
for herself, but a fine constitution carried her comfortably 
along. 

The revolving wheel of the seasons brought her to the sense 
however finally that rest would be very sweet, and then she re- 
membered an old hope, an old intention. On her first visit to 
Italy with Dumonde, they had agreed that Florence — the too 
fair ! — was not a place to live and work in, but in turning their 
backs upon it, had taken along the dream of returning when 
Sturm und Drang shoxdd be over, to rest amid its riches, and let 
its loveliness be enough. And so, at a warning thin as a horn- 
call from a forest miles away, Mrs. Northmere's thought one 
day turned toward Florence. A feeling for the romantic woxdd 
naturally not be wanting in the woman who, so sensible as she 
was, had named her first-bom Adriance. 

It was from Florence that Alice Morton received the letter 
in which her old friend wrote, "Are you coming this way? I 
should be most glad to see you. There is something you can 
do for me.** And from Bome Alice hastened to Florence. 

Mrs. Northmere was at Pension Marquhardt. Alice found 

her in the cloister that bounds two sides of the walled garden. 

A breakfast tray stood at her elbow, she was crumbling the 

remainder of her roll to the birds. The hands so employed, as 

Alice could see without directly looking, were noticeably dis- 

212 



THE TETJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 213 

torted^ noticeably clumsy at their task. Mrs. Northmere^s fore- 
head, she thought, had grown larger, bossier, an efEect produced, 
she realized after a moment, by the face having fallen away a 
little and the hair grown thinner. She wore a cap, a cane 
was within reach of her hand. 

All the same, there was not a touch of piteousness about her. 
Her face reflected the quiet cheer of the little garden under the 
morning sim. She gave the impression as always of being equal 
to whatever might befall her. She was not first learning about 
old age when it came upon herself, not in any sense taken im- 
awares or found rebellious. 

She told her little devout disciple in the course of that fore- 
noon that the world seemed to her more and more amazing, that 
she discovered beauty and wisdom and order more and more 
as she had a greater stretch of life to draw conclusions from, 
that she liked it better and better. Life, its pain and evil not- 
withstanding, was a thrilling adventure, oh, a grand game, fit for 
gods to play at I Indeed, she showed herself that morning quite 
of a mind with the Creator, when considering it as a whole He 
gave it a good name. The longer you lived, she confided to 
Alice with zest, the more you got of the fim of seeing how 
things worked out, how the stories ended. She would have liked 
to continue living on and on, had it not been that Nature in her 
was becoming a little tired. Even so children grow sleepy be- 
fore the end of the party, and are glad to be taken home and 
put to bed. 

Alice had always found it a matter of marvel that this deep- 
bosomed woman who, she imagined, had loved as much more 
than others as her nature was richer, and then lost all her 
beloved, should still have so much of herself left over for in- 
terest in, sympathy for, curiosity about, the world outside her 
personal affections. But that is what it means to be great, 
she decided, in her fond partiality. 

The moment after her visitor's arrival, Mrs. Northmere had 
amiably suggested to Camilla that she take advantage of it to 
go out for a bit of recreation, to see her family, or hear a Mass, 



214 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

and Camilla had carried her delicately hardy^ undiminished good 
looks forth from their sight, perhaps to the places indicated, or 
perhaps elsewhere. 

Boss Brady, between whom and his mistress there had come to 
be an indefinable likeness, so that one smiled to see them walk- 
ing together, stifE and portly, — Boss, to Alice^s surprise and 
greatly to her delight, gave evidence of remembering her. He 
wagged his whole white body with excitement, making sounds 
which they interpreted as signs of a tremendous effort to tell 
them all about it in human language. One of his gold-brown 
eyes, she noticed with pain, was turning milky, like an opal; 
bald spots were appearing over the knots in his thoroughbred 
tail. He trotted off out of sight after the first exchanges, 
and comitig back laid at the visitor's feet — delicate attention ! 
— one of his mistress's woolen bed-shoes. 

^^ It was about Boss particularly I wanted to see you,'' Mrs. 
Northmere said. " If he should survive me, Alice, will you take 
him? No, no, child, I expect you to be sensible. I have no 
idea of dying, but I am old enough and rheumatic enough to 
see the wisdom of making sure my faithful little body-guard 
has a good home. It 's a good deal to ask, I 'm well aware ; but 
you, Alice, seemed to me to understand at once that Boss is a 
dog with a soul. You have, I judge, the right feeling about 
these dumb friends of man, you find nothing surprising in the 
flat idiocies of old women with pet dogs." She turned to him. 
'^Mother's comfort! Blessed angel-fool! The old paladin's 
trusty little esquire ! Little glowing stove at which mother has 
warmed her poor old hands these seven years ! . . ." She again 
turned to Alice. ^'Freely and gladly I shall leave my money 
to Camilla, but for nothing in the whole world would I be caught 
leaving her my dog ! " 

At the amazement painted on Alice's face, she laughed and 
nodded, with a sly look that brightened and brightened and went 
on brightening, "Yes, my dear, to Camilla. What did you 
suppose? And with joy, my dear, with joy, with glee as un- 
bounded as my gratitude. I fairly grudge the delay, the put- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 216 

ting oflf of it for a year, a month, a day. The poor creature 
has kept it up so long already, part of my boneache I believe 
is for her. For ten years, the best years of her life, that hand- 
some, pleasure and luxury-loving girl has had the existence of 
a slave. Hard work is hard work, Alice ; patience, perseverance, 
endurance, self-control, are virtues, whoever practises them. And 
I, who have had the benefit of her determined exercise of them 
all, am glad, glad, that what she has given me is of exactly 
the kind which can be paid for with money, and I have the 
money to pay. I only wish, such is my estimate of what she 
has done for me, that it were more. She did it in hopes of my 
money? She shall have it, and my blessing besides. I don^t 
love her a bit, my dear, in the ordinary sense of the word. 
After ten years we are still worlds apart, after twenty we should 
be no nearer. We have learned to understand each other, in 
the sense of calculating to a nicety what the other will do or say 
or even feel in any given case ; but to see why the other should 
feel like that is beyond us both. We know nothing of each 
other from sympathy; just from unaided intelligence, observa- 
tion, memory. She has a fundamental, matter-of-course con- 
tempt for me, and I have indulgence for her as for one who is 
defective in some of the human organs, and we get on without 
a rub. I will set down this to her honor, she is essentially 
not a hypocrite. She might have played the part of daughter, 
she preferred, from the moment my money entered into her cal- 
culations, to make herself my servant. I saw the change. I 
say I don't love her, but that does not aflfect my respect, my 
admiration. To do anything so well for so long, to pursue an 
object so undeviatingly, deserves the success I mean to crown 
it with.^^ 

*'Does she know?*^ inquired Alice. 

" No, my dear, she does not ! She knows I have remembered 
her in my will, but not that I intend to make her rich. I 
could not trust her quite to that extent. DonH imagine, child,^ 
that I mean anything dark. I merely mean I am not sure 
she may not give me reason after all to change my mind. 



216 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Rather ungenerous of me to keep her in suspense. All the 
greater will be her final joy. Alice . . .'* her fine old face 
broke into a smile that spread in a thousand sunny wrinkles^ 
"Alice, I gloat on the picture of Camilla with my money at 
her disposal. The old novelist, I tell you, gloats. Though we 
have few surprises, I judge, for each other, still I doubt if 
she dreams that I have observed the person with tired eyes, 
white waistcoat, waxed mustache and goatee, who reappears at 
intervals along the course of our peregrinations, and the signs 
by which I know, though they laboriously never look at each 
other, that they are thick as thieves. I gloat on the picture of 
her leading la grande vie with that species of ruined noble, — 
just the figure for the novel I see unfolding, — bowling in 
lustrous carriages, sitting in opera-boxes, catching the eye by 
their elegance on the grandstand at races. She will get so 
much for her money, he is mistaken if he thinks she will let 
him have it to squander. A little villa on Lake Como, summer 
at St. Moritz, winter in Algiers, occasional appearances at 
Wiesbaden, Homburg, TrouviUe, and such ostrich-plumes to 
her immoderate hats, real pearls in her ears hereafter, her 
perdurable beauty set off as it deserves to be by feathers as 
fine as she may please. I tell you, Alice, I can hardly wait to 
make room for her.'* 

Alice made a conscientious effort to reflect her enthusiasm, 
but her smile came out faint and forced. 

'' It is kindness to Moy,'* Mrs. Northmere read her thoughts. 
"If Floy were to have my money, Camilla woxdd simply ar- 
range to have Floy. And I should nH be there to' bundle her 
off to Antwerp . . .'* Both laughed at the remembrance. " No, 
no," she continued, *'the best thing in the world for Floy is 
to be obliged to work. A good thing Pauline's plans for 
him had to be dropped. A good thing his uncle has taken him 
into the rubber business. Singers, Alice, shoxdd be very ugly; 
makers of rubber boots, on the other hand, ought to be beautiful. 
But I am not altogether forgetting him in my will. He's to 
have the rights of the Memoirs which your father will publish. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 217 

And the farm. I should like it to remain in the family. Pauline 
is to have the bits of Northmere silver and the bulk of my 
personal belongings. From the rest of my American real estate 
annuities will be paid to two or three old people in South Marsh- 
field. And you, Alice, are to have a troublesome old dog, grow- 
ing blinder and deafer, fatter and more disgracefully lazy every 
day. See his ears twitch, Alice, he knows I'm talking about 
him. A spoiled old dog, a greedy dog, Alice, a dog who thinks 
nothing of bringing his muddy hoofs into the parlor, who has 
the impudence to ask a lady to scratch his silly old stomach 
... I leave you the only thing, Alice, my sweet girl, that I 
care enough about to wish I could take it with me. And for 
a remembrance, when Boss has followed me, I'm bequeathing 
you one or two things which I have fondly thought you would 
care for more than the others, among them my bronze inkstand 
and my pen.'* 



CHAPTER XII 

ALICE had many a good talk with Mrs. Northmere, and 
Boss many a good scamper with Alice, for she did not 
return to Some that season. 

She explained her change of plans in writing home : " Mrs. 
Northmere is far from well^ and I cannot bear not to be near. 
I am uneasy, not so much on account of what actually appears, 
as what is implied by her arrangements. She has left Pension 
Marquhardt, which she has always found so comfortable, and 
rented an apartment, 'where,^ she says, *it will be easier to 
take care of me.* Aside from that you would not suppose 
she thought her condition serious. She has recently discovered 
Greek tragedy for herself, and gets extraordinary satisfaction 
from it. Since she is debarred from going to the galleries, she 
amuses herself with photographs of the masterpieces, she spends 
hours at a time over them. Prom which you see that her spirit 
is unchanged. But she is too lame to leave her room, and has 
to have punctures of morphine now and, then to deaden the 
pain.** 

It was while Mrs. Northmere was at this stage of her illness 

that she said to Alice one day, with a face brimful of fun and 

naughtiness, ^^Oh, Alice, I wish I had time! I think of the 

dozens of books I wrote when I had to make sure they would 

meet a particular demand, and never a thing in them that 

could not be read aloud to a consumptive maiden! When it 

would have been in my nature, Alice, to write it all ! For none 

of it ever escaped me, and the comedy of the wickedness that 

has come under my observation in the course of a long and 

varied life would make such spicy reading, Alice!** 

218 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 219 

Alice remembered it as a last simbreak^ for on the day fol- 
lowing Mrs. Northmere took to her bed. 

It had been Camilla who looked for the apartment^ a mezzch 
nino on the Lungamo^ facing South, where they coxdd keep 
warm in winter; Camilla who found servants for it, and got 
the establishment to running smoothly under her strong good 
government. 

The doctor came every day, an Englishman, whom she never 
found the courage to question as she would have questioned a 
compatriot. To her anxious, " How do you find her, doctor ? '^ 
he would answer with a cheery, ^* She is doing as well as possible, 
as well as possible. The medicine is taking hold, is taking 
hold.'' 

But one day he suggested that an English nurse, whom he 
could highly recommend, should be engaged. Camilla turning 
paler answered jealously, "No, I can do everything. I wish 
to do everything myself,'* and after that left Mrs. Northmere's 
room only during the hours which Alice came to spend with 
her friend. 

On one of these occasions, when both had summarily ordered 
her out for a breath of fresh air, and she was hurrjong to do an 
errand for the house, she came face to face with Mademoiselle 
Heller. But because she was still in such a small way of life, 
unmarried, and looking that day her very worst, she feigned not 
to know her. And Mademoiselle, who had long outlived her 
anger, and was about to kiss the old pupil on both cheeks, re- 
pelled by her feint, let her pass, with a hurt and incensed look, 
unsaluted. The regret of this incident was never quite to die 
away in Camilla's breast. For there came no other opportunity, 
the dream of arriving at her old school, like Cinderella in the 
fairy coach, was never realized in its most faded form. 

The Orlandi, Camilla believed she would have gone to see at 
this time, but the family was scattered, Mathilde lived, a widow, 
with her married daughter at Pistoja. Camilla could have 
seen her a few years before, when ^e spent a fortnight in 



220 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Florence, but having just invested all her savings she conld not 
take her the fine gift she had intended, and so put ofiE the 
visit. 

One satisfaction of the present return to Florence had been 
finding in the office of Pension Marquhardt a niece of Mrs. 
Marquhardfs own instated, and to learn that Elise had been dis- 
missed in black disgrace. 

But no satisfactions were very clear in these days, no dream 
of future happiness had much vitality. In the atmosphere of 
illness Camilla became like one who has lost the sense of taste, 
and sees the most desirable fruits before her, knowing that she 
will eat before long and be nourished, but cannot imagine 
any keenness of pleasure from it. The sight of pain, strong as 
she made herself against it, killed the possibility of an inde- 
pendent joy. And then a dreadful xmcertainty lay curled in the 
bottom of her heart like a gnawing worm, for whose sake Ca- 
milla had moments of hating Mrs. Northmere, being almost 
glad to hear her groan. The moment after, something about 
the large, gently breathing bulk in the bed would reassure her, 
and she would wonder single-mindedly what she could do more 
to relieve it, help it, prolong its days. 

Mrs. Northmere had a much calmer heart. When it came to 
her one midnight — a perception mainly of artistic fitness, — that 
the end of the story must be near, exaltation possessed her, of a 
very still, awed kind, at the approach of the great initiation, 
the prospect of sloughing her tired and withered body to start on 
the " adventure brave and new *^ in some form which she re- 
fused to imagine except as brave and new. Had she been 
offered during that night an escape from the ordeal, the untried 
sensations, the lonely drop into the xmknown, she would have 
refused, for a vast and solemn love of man, all men who had 
ever been or ever shoxdd be, expanded her heart, and she could 
wish to be spared nothing that the rest must suffer, she was 
glad to be made one with them at least in that. 

Later, when pain had worn her down, and the haunting of 
her sleep by cherished shapes lost to sight long ago — ah. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 221 

Innesley, frost-killed flower I — suggested to the romantic 
imagination that she drew near the world which they inhabit^ 
she had hours of a troubled mind at the sense of things which 
she had not done^ and now had no more time to do. She feared 
she had been too little of a reformer. She had watched the 
world too much as a spectator, and liked it all so well! She 
had not done what she might against abuses^ with a sense finally, 
which it now seemed possible had been mistaken, that in larger 
hearts and stronger brains lies our only hope, and that each 
must, witii God's assistance, work for these in his own province. 
Her poor books had done one thing at least, she tried to think, 
asserted and reasserted the soul, upheld — to monotony! — the 
good, contributed their mite to the enlargement of spiritual 
consciousness. If it had not been enough, there was but one 
thing to do, cast herself upon the mercy of her Judge, and make 
herself as a child willing to be taught better ways. 

Then, in the darkest hours, doubts sometimes. But always 
a triumphant sanity rising higher would insist that the percep- 
tions of health must be safer to trust than those thin specters 
which peer between the curtains of a sick-bed. 

She spoke of these things to Alice, allowing herself to think 
aloud in that sympathetic company, but only once, for she saw 
how passionately Alice was resolved she should get well, how 
intolerable to her was any other thought. 

And she in fact, as if at the taking effect of Alice's prayers, 
began presently to improve, and it seemed as if the novel of 
her life might develop differently from what she had expected 
of so able a Novelist. At which she could hardly cavil. It 
seemed not inappropriate, in view of this turn for the better, to 
plan a little where they should go, what they should do, when 
she got well. The house took on an air of cheer, Alice smiled 
a smile of tender happiness over the violets she brought, Camilla 
chattered with feverish gaiety, like one from whom thumb- 
screws had been removed. Mrs. Northmere sat up in bed and 
called for her .^chylus. 

She overdid, very likely, for that night she could not go to 



222 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

sleep. Opening her eyes after a long spell of coaxing slumber^ 
and seeing Camilla where she read by the shaded lamp, she 
watched her from the wide bed in the alcove, without letting her 
know that she was awake. The soft snoring of Boss at his 
mistresses feet was the only sound in the room. 

" Camilla/' came Mrs. Northmere's voice out of the shadow, 
"I sometimes fear that my meddling with your fortunes was a 
doubtful blessing. Had I let you alone you would in all prob- 
ability have married and had the normal life of a woman. I 
have been regretting it all for you these last ten minutes, as I 
considered the womanly curve of your cheek. You might have 
been the proud mother by this time of half a dozen children.^' 

Camilla had laid down her book and, very willing to talk 
about herself, taken the chair which it was the doctor's habit to 
draw up to the bed when he came to feel his patient's pulse. 
At the mention of children, she made a vigorous gesture of 
pushing them away. ^'I have never wanted children 1" she 
said. 

" But love, — that early, foolish, innocent, blissful and blessed 
condition, founded upon a thousand mistakes and illusions, which 
yet is the portal to wisdom and to growth ! " 

At the suggestion of any meagemess marking her experience 
of life, an expression so particular overspread Camilla's face 
that Mrs. Northmere stopped short to ask, " What is it ? " 

^^ Shall I tell you a thing which I have kept secret all these 
years ? It is, dear Mrs. Northmere, it is — ^" the pause was long 
and effective, ''that I have been married." 

" Ah. Indeed. You have been. . . . How very interesting ! " 

" I never meant to speak of it, but now, so long after, why 
not, after all? My reason for silence at first was in part my 
fear that it would create a situation delicate to the point of 
difficulty should you know that you had engaged at a salary 
of a hundred and fifty francs a month the . . ." Camilla looked 
down at her lap with infinite modesty, "the Marchesa della 
Bocca. It might have seemed, if I told you, that I desired 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 223 

riguardi, you know, privileges, more than should be expected by 
a hired attendant I preferred to let the situation shape itself 
as it would, unaffected by such an element." 

" I see. The Marchesa della Bocca, you say ? " 

^' Alas, dear lady, yes. The unhappy Marchesa della Eocca.'^ 

^'My dear, proceed. I am listening. I am, in fact, as you 
sometimes express it, all ears." 

" Ah, what am I thinking? Dear Mrs. Northmere, when it is 
so important that you should go to sleep. It is nearly midnight. 
I will give you the sleeping drops." 

"No, Camilla, no. I refuse to be put to sleep. I demand 
the entertainment that has been dangled before my curiosity." 

''You really desire to read that troubled and blotted page 
of my history? You will forgive me for not making you 
acquainted with it before ? " 

" Get on with it, my child." 

"" Alors . . . Done . . ." She settled down to the business of 
furnishing as far as she could a rewarding tale, *' You remem- 
ber a certain Count Mari whom we saw in Home ? He was my 
guardian, as I perhaps told you at the time. My mother, a 
woman of rank, who relinquished her title at marriage, had died 
at my birth; my father had wasted his fortune, and in dying 
left me to the care of his friend. Count Mari." 

" Yes, Camilla, you told me that." 

** What I concealed was the part following my years at school, 
which you shall now hear. My education finished, the Maris 
took me to live with them. The Countess was to me as a 
mother, made no difference between her own children and me. 
I was eighteen, the age at which it was natural a marriage should 
be arranged for me. The Countess in fact had it very much at 
heart to see me established suitably. My portion was small, my 
connections, however, my position, good. But now began a 
singular story. Aspirants would present themselves, in every 
way desirable, the Countess would see them with a favorable eye, 
but the Count would find some reason for refusing them my 



234 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

hand. He would seek reascms from the four points of the 
horizon, dig them out of the earth, fish them up out of the sea, — 
anything, to show my suitors the door. What should you have 
thought of it? I should not have known what to think, but 
that certain words of his finally enlightened me. The man, 
Mrs. Northmere, was old enough to be my father, nay, my grand- 
father, and yet it was jealousy, yes, a curious sort of jealousy. 
... I really think I must give you a few of those drops. I 
talk in the hope of making you go to sleep, and your eyes are 
wakeful as an owFs . . .** 

"TeU on, girl, teU onl^* 

'^ I will condense. If this continues, said I to myself, I shall 
never get married at all. And I was vexed at the idea, because 
I desired very much to leave Count Marias roof. I must tell 
you that among the men who had asked me in marriage was 
one whom I had remarked above the others, and regarded with 
no indifferent eye. We had ^st met at a ball, and we saw each 
other often in society. He had every attribute of a hero of ro- 
mance, young, handsome, rich, of noble birth, and above all im- 
mensely enamored of the one who tells you this. A lover he was 
fitted to turn any young girPs head. He asked for my hand, 
and was refused, more brutally than the rest. Count Mari 
brought accusations against him which I believed he invented 
merely to poison my mind against Eoberto. I was not a person 
without resolution, and this which seemed to me the most cruel 
injustice I was determined to defeat. So when Boberto wrote 
me secretly I replied, and did not forbid his slipping into the 
garden at night, where I would meet him, muffled in a great 
black mantle . . .'* 

*' I *m glad you did n't forget that,'' put in Mrs. Northmere. 

'^The black mantle? Of course I would not forget to make 
myself invisible from the windows. He wore his long military 
cape, we were shadows among the shadows, and our whispering 
covered by the whispering of the fountain. The resxdt was 
that I let myself be persuaded to fiy with him . . .^ 

** Very complete.^ 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 226 

" Complete as a chapter from the pen of a brilliant romancer, 
n'ssUce^pa^f Ah, if it were not so late, I could tell you de- 
tails of our flight, details . • /' Boss, disturbed by a change 
of position in the humps under the bed-clothes, yawned aloud. 
" My fright lest the Count's favorite hound who slept at his door 
should give the alarm as I stole by, my fear that . • . But we 
got away in safety. Better for me, alas> had we been 
stopped I . . /* 

"He was the Marchese, was he?*' 

" Yes, the Marchese della Bocca. There was a man who, had 
he been as frank and loyal as he was attractive, would have had 
literally all the qualities! But my guardian's accusations 
against him were unfortunately true. Though I believe even 
now that he loved me as madly as he professed, he was entangled 
in a manner that promised but poorly for my happiness. Tou 
understand me? ... I had proof of his deceit before the end 
of the first week. We were on our honeymoon when a letter 
came to my hands from the woman, the evil genius of his life, 
who claimed to have stronger rights than I. What was there 
for me to do, I ask you, but fly again? This time alone and 
in despair. Picture that ill-adventured bride ! And whither fly, 
since I no longer had a home ? I remembered the family of my 
halia here in Florence. I came to hide among them, dropping 
my name for theirs. Then, as I had lost everything and would 
not live at their expense, I took the position I was filling when I 
had the happiness to make your acquaintance. There in a few 
words you have my story, dearest lady. I must add that Eoberto 
shortly after ended his life by his own hand, the wretched 
man shot himself, since which I go in black, as you have always 
seen me.** 

But Mrs. Northmere, owing to her weak condition, had lost 
the thread apparently of the tragic story. She was grinning an 
inappropriate, shining, inane grin, and speaking to herself words 
which had nothing to do with the case, but referred themselves 
presumably to her recent Qreek readings, "Odysseus,** she 
chuckled, " Odysseus of the many devices ! ** 



226 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

A state of beneficent torpor had succeeded pain, which could 
be interpreted as promising well. So much quiet sleep must 
be a favorable indication. Mrs. Northmere had ceased to think 
much about it, but returned now and then to a pleasant plan 
for seeing the temples of Paestum with Alice by and by. 

*' What ails my lamb ? '' she asked one evening, waking from 
a drowse, and noticing how Boss persistently sniffed at the crack 
under the door, with sniffs as loud as sneezes. ^'Gome here, 
my baby, and tell mother what excites him.'^ 

But Boss, ignoring the call, added to his snifBng a growl, then 
a scratch at the door and a whimper of impatience to have it 
opened. 

Mrs. ilTorthmere tinkled her handbell, and after a minute 
Camilla entered by the door on the other side of the 
room. 

" Who is in the drawing-room? *' Mrs. Northmere asked. 

"Li the drawing-room? Surely nobody. I have just come 
from the kitchen, where I was doing accounts with the cook.'* 

Boss scratched again and gave a sharp yelp of command that 
the door be opened for him. 

*' Camilla, somebody is in that room, for Boss declares there 
is. Please open the door for him.** 

" Dear Mrs. Northmere, it is no doubt a mouse he hears. If 
I open he will plunge in barking, and disturb you with much 
noise, as well as make the rugs aU in disorder.** 

*' Camilla, some one is in there and I can see that you know 
it. Now it would interest me also to know who it is.** 

At Camilla*s smile of patient indulgence for a sick woman's 
vagaries, grim irritation, in the highest degree uncharacteristic, 
locked Mrs. N'orthmere*s jaws. Before Camilla dreamed that 
she would or could do it, she let herself down the side of the 
bed, and without so much as the aid of her cane stumped toward 
the door. 

Camilla stared with appalled eyes, then, shaking a momentary 
paralysis, hurried to take her arm and support her along. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 227 

Mrs. Northmere pulled open the door. Boss leaped into the 
room. Profound silence ensued^ for Boss's scenting at a trouser- 
leg made no noise. 

The room was lighted by a dull moon-like globe on the center- 
table. Pale against the dark backgroimd showed a face with 
tired eyes, pointed mustache and chin-tuft . . . 

The first thought flashing through Mrs. Northmere's brain was, 
" I am probably more ill than I realize, or why is a shark swim- 
ming so close to the vessel ?'* But the unpleasantness of this 
shock could not hold its ground against invading, insuperable 
interest. She stood at the door a moment in her ample flannel 
bedgown, then, with her eyes turned upon the visitor who stirred 
no more than a wax figure, advanced into the room. 

" Pray introduce your friend ! '* she said, in the urbane tones 
of old reception days. 

"My dear lady, what do you mean?'* came Camilla's 
frightened voice, like a surprising spray of cold. " What do you 
think you see? It is as I told you, there is nobody in this room. 
You have but a fancy, an idea, that you see somebody 1 '' 

Mrs. Northmere snorted like a steam-engine, "Don't talk to 
me!" and with forefinger extended took another step or two 
toward the apparition. 

But Camilla threw her weight into holding her back, " Come 
to your bed, my dearest, dearest lady, and repose yourself. 
You will be much better at once." 

" Oh, very well ! " Mrs. Northmere abruptly gave in, and tot- 
tering a little let herself be led from the room. 

" I did so want to know who he is," she grumbled as she went, 
"and the mean hussy won't tell me, won't let me have that 
fun ! . . . Wish I 'd thought to grab and shake him," she added 
with comic ferocity. "I could have done it, I believe, dying 
though they think I be ! " 

The old equability returned in a minute or two. 

" Not half a bad idea," she thought. " How could she have 
told me the truth, after all ? What she did was perfectly in char- 
acter, and have I not known that character these years ? Yes, and 



228 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

got my entertainment out of it. Then why did I get so cross ? *' 

She was quieting down in her bed, very willing to forget the 
incident and all incidents, when a yelp from Boss in the next 
room lifted her sharply from her pillow. She at the same time 
whistled and rang her belL Boss and Camilla came hurrying 
in together. 

*' I stepped on his paw/' Camilla explained at once. 

" You did nothing of the kind 1 ** cried Mrs. Northmere, with 
snapping eyes. " Do you suppose I donH understand Boss's talk ? 
If he is accidentally trodden on he begs pardon for being in the 
way, but just now he called out that he was a good dog vilely 
used. Camilla, we have been together many years. I shall be 
sorry if we must part before the end . . ^ 

Camilla's heart fairly stopped beating. 

It was but a few nights later that Mrs. Northmere, emerging 
from a waste and tangled dream, caught sight of Camilla dozing. 
The lamp was shaded so as to cast no ray into the alcove, but 
it lighted the face of the nurse, who had been reading while she 
waited for the hour to give the medicine. The quiet golden 
flood fell sideways on the drooping face, accentuating the hollows 
worn in it. 

At an involuntary movement of Mrs. Northmere^s in the bed, 
Camilla sat bolt upright. 

" My child," Mrs. Northmere spoke instantly, " we must have 
in a nurse to take care of me. To-morrow we will get a nurse. 
There must be no mistake about this. And you must completely 
rest. I can't think where my senses have been. My poor girl, 
you are tired out. I can't have you looking like this 1" 

But Camilla, spreading wide her hands, made a gesture of 
thrusting away the proposal with abhorrent rejection. "No! 
No ! " she cried violently. " Nobody must take care of you but 
me I I could not bear it ! It is I, I who must do everything for 
you! I must do everything 1" Her voice broke, and tears 
^shed in a crystal rain from her eyes, over which she clapped 
her hands, and took her fit of weeping out of sight. And some 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 229 

of those tears yerj likely angels gathered up in etenal tear- 
bottles. 

^ I dare say she loves me more than she knows,'' Mrs. North- 
mere, on her back, with wide-open eyes, reflected. ^ And I love 
her more, I feel, than I had imagined. ... I should nH wonder 
if Camilla got to Heaven before many of ns. She has served 
so mnch ; from motives however mixed and spotted, done so much 
good, — yes, and oi joyed doing it, that's the pcHnt. . . . And 
when she reaches Heaven^ what a showing-off there'll bef 



CHAPTEB XIII 

THE houfle this day was very quiet. A servant posted at the 
entrance-door opened it as soon as she heard footsteps on 
the stairs^ and told inquirers what she had been instructed to 
teU. 

Toward evening, when Alice had gone home, anguish in her 
heart, without a word or look all day from the sick woman^ Mrs. 
Northmere, surprisingly, came quite to herself, would have her 
dog in her arms to hug, and after swallowing an invigorating 
draught called out to Camilla, with an incredibly bright air, 
" Come, amuse me, I wish to be amused ! ** 

Camilla forced her face into a smile as amiably obliging as 
ever. *' Willingly I *' She sat down sociably near, **But how? 
What shall I talk to you about ? '' 

*^A story, my dear, I want a story. Do you remember in 
Munich, when I was ill and you used to enliven me with Dicht- 
ung and Wahrheit aus meinem Leben? There was a tale you 
told me then, a scrap of it drifted across my mind to-day. 
Death comes at the end in a coach to fetch the hero, and is 
put ofif by some trick.^' 

*'I know. It is the story of Pipetta.'* 

*^Do you remember it?" 

" How could I forget it ? I first heard it from Suor Degna, 
one of the Sisters to whom I went to school," she answered care- 
lessly, " and I used to tell it over and over to my little brother 
Olindo, to keep him quiet when I had to take care of him . . ." 
The little cat, escaped from the bag, made itself scarce without 
either Mrs. Northmere or Camilla having noticed it. 

" Then tell me." 

230 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 231 

*' One minute. . . . There. It was like this. Pipetta was a 
soldier. And one day, when the oflScer passed the troops in re- 
view, he said, ' Who is that disgraceful fellow whose buttons are 
duU as lead?' 'Pipetta, your excellency.' *To prison with 
him, that he may learn to keep his buttons bright 1' In the 
prison Pipetta rubbed his buttons till they shone like the sun. 
Again after his release he stood up at parade. And, * Who is 
that vain and puffed up fellow,' asked the oflScer, * whose but- 
tons shine out of all reason and measure?' * Pipetta.' *To 
prison with him, that he may learn some modesty I' But 
Pipetta rebelled. * I will no longer serve,' he cried, ' where if I 
am not too dirty I am too clean. Give me the four soldi owing 
me, and I will seek my fortune elsewhere.' *May you die a 
rialent death 1 ' was the farewell word of his superior oflScer — 
Are you sure that it is not tiring you?" 
" Yes, yes. I have always dearly loved a story. Go on." 
" So he went. He went and he went and he went. When he 
had spent all but one soldo there came along a beggar, an old 
man with gray beard and tattered mantle, who held out his 
hand for alms. Pipetta, who had not a bad heart, said, ' I have 
only one soldo left, which I cannot break in two. But come 
with me, I will buy bread and we will share it.' So they con- 
tinued the road together. As they were arriving at a convent, 
which stood at the meeting of two roads, and had a front of 
columns and arches, what should they see but a lamb caught 
in a thorn-bush. Rejoicings. Without so many compliments 
they seize the animal, kill it and build a fire. Then the beggar- 
man says, 'Give me the soldo, I will go to the city which you 
see over there on the hill and buy bread and salt, while you 
prepare and roast the meat.' So said, so done. Pipetta roasts 
the meat, it smells extraordinarily inviting. His companion is 
a long time returning, so while waiting he eats all of what we 
call the coratelle . . . heart, you know, liver, kidneys . . ." 
" Innerds, we call them in South Marshfield." 
''Eeturns the old man with the bread and salt. They eat, 
and says the man, ' I should like a taste of the innerds, if you 



232 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

please/ Pipetta says, * There were in this case no innerds. This 
lamb had no such thing/ ' A very singular lamb/ says the old 
man, and says no more. But after dinner he says, ^When I 
was in the city buying bread, I heard talk of a king whose 
daughter is very ill, and he promises a famous reward to the 
doctor who will cure her, but the doctors who try and fail 
are put to death. We will go there and we will earn the reward/ 
Pipetta had turned pale. *What is that you propose? My 
Captain told me I should die a violent death, and you wish to 
drag me into such a risk ? * ' Have faith 1 ' said the old man. 
When they arrived at the king^s court, his daughter was all but 
dead. The beggar annoimced himself and Pipetta as miraculous 
physicians, and said, ' These are the things which I require : A 
chamber, a fireplace, a sheet, a glass of water, a spoon, and the 
princess.* All of which were given to him. When they had 
shut themselves in the chamber, the old man ordered Pipetta 
to make a fire. When it was burning high, he cast the princess 
into the flames, and as Pipetta tore his hair and cried, 'My 
Captain told me 1 My Captain told me ! * the old man calmly 
said, * Believe in me ! * When the princess was burned to ashes, 
he gathered these up in the sheet, poured from the spoon a few 
drops of water on to them, with words and signs, — folded the 
sheet and waited. And when at the right moment he opened 
the sheet, the princess stepped forth in complete health. If 
she had been beautiful before, she was now ten times more 
beautiful. And they restored her to her father's arms. The 
gold they were given was so much that they must take it away in 
a wheelbarrow. Imagine Pipetta's joy I They had not been 
going long when they came to the point where the ways parted 
and the convent stood, you remember, which had three columns 
before it, supporting the arches . . /* 

" The convent with the colunms and arches . . . Yes, I can 
see it . .• . How many times we have seen that convent in this 
blessed Italy 1 '' 

" Pipetta said, ' Let us divide the money and separate,* because 
he wished to be free from the old man, and enjoy his money in 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 233 

his own way. 'Very well/ said the old man, and began to 
divide the gold, placing one piece at a time at the base of each 
of the columns, till all was finished. 'But why do you make 
three parts,' asked Pipetta, 'when there are only two of us?* 
' One is for you, one is for me, and the third is for the lamb that 
had no coratelle/ said the old man, mysteriously. ' Then,' said 
Pipetta, ' as it was I who ate the coratelle, the third part is for 
me I' And before the other could say a word he piled two 
shares into the wheelbarrow and as fast as he could wheeled it 
oflE.'' 

*' The good fairies of Italy,'' remarked Mrs. Northmere, *' have 
halos concealed in their hoods." 

"Shall I go on?" 

" By all means ... Go on." 

*' You are sure it is not tiring you? It is not too long? . . . 
Well, Pipetta lived a merry life with gay companions until all 
his money was finished. Then when he must find some way to 
earn a livelihood, he remembered the old man and how the 
fortune just spent had been acquired. He went in search of 
a king with a daughter to cure, and by a strange fortune had 
soon found one. With an air of magnificent confidence he asked 
for a chamber, a fire, a sheet, a glass of water, a spoon, and that 
the princess should be given into his hands. Having obtained 
what he desired, he did as he remembered seeing the old man 
do. When the ashes had been placed in the sheet, he made his 
passes, mumbled his words. But when he opened the sheet again, 
what was his horror to find only ashes still! He fell on his 
knees, he tore his hair. 'My Captain told me I should die a 
violent death ! My Captain told me ! This is what happens be- 
cause I treated the old man badly, which I repent, and would 
I were safely out of this ! ' While he was weeping and trembling 
in his fear, what should happen but that the window should 
softly open, and who should come in but the gray-bearded beggar I 
' Ungrateful Pipetta I ' he said. ' Sinful man I ' But he lost no 
time in making the right passes and saying the right words, 
and the princess came forth from the sheet more beautiful and 



234 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

in better health than in all her life before. Pipetta fell at the 
old man's feet, blessing him. * Make better use of your riches 
this time/ said the old man, and, * Because of your last soldo,' 
he said, ^ which you once shared with me, I give you three 
wishes, with this counsel, 'Let one of them be the grace of 
Godl'^' 

Mrs. Northmere appeared to have dozed oflE, but as Camilla 
held in, she encouraged her to keep on by giving evidence of 
attention. ''A capital tale!^^ she murmured. "And Italian 
as an umbrella pine 1 *' 

" Pipetta was older and wiser now,'* Camilla proceeded. 
" He used his money with discretion, and so never came to want. 
After a happy Uf e, when he was 80, this happened : He had a 
favorite plum-tree, of a rare species, and the contadini always 
were stealing his plums in the night. In his anger at this one 
day he remembered the three wishes and said, * I wish that the 
next person who comes to steal from my tree may remain stuck to 
it, so that he cannot get away without ipy pleasure.' That very 
day Death came for him in a black coach painted with white bones. 
Having listened to his request that he accompany him, Pipetta, 
appearing quite willing to go, entertained him meanwhile like 
an honored guest, compliments, refreshments, taking him even 
into his orchard and offering him fruit from the precious tree. 
And Death in picking a plum remained fast caught by his 
hand. 'Promise not to come for me before the end of ten 
years,' said Pipetta, ' only on that condition will I set you free ! ' 
And Death was forced to promise . . ." Camilla stopped and 
waited. 

" I hear you 1 '' came from Mrs. Northmere, after a moment. 

" So Pipetta lived a pleasant life for ten years more. Then 
this happened : He had an armchair, more comfortable than any 
other he possessed, and always his visitors would take in prefer- 
ence that chair, till Pipetta lost patience, and remembering the 
wishes at his command, said, ' I wish that the next person who 
takes that cushioned chair and leaves me to sit on a wooden 
one, may remain stuck to it during my pleasure ! * That day 



THE TRTJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 236 

Death came for him again in his coach. Pipetta as soon as he 
entered courteously oflEered him the best chair . . . and, as you 
have divined, obtained another lease of life. And all went on as 
before for ten years longer. He was finishing his hundredth 
year, when he one night dreamed of the old man, and in the 
morning, remembering his counsel, he wished for the grace of 
God, while it still was time. After that, when Death came before 
evening in his black coach with white bones, he went with him 
quite willingly . . .'^ 

Mrs. !N"orthmere, in the delicate excitement of a critic well 
pleased, tried, and successfully, to raise herself from her pillow. 
"Camilla,^^ she exclaimed, with eyes singularly alive, "that 
soldier of fortune reminds me of yourself. Yes. With wishes 
at your command that might get you anything in the universe, 
you would ask for some such thing as he did, now would n^t you ? 
Some solid little advantage such as every one could understand, 
a special tree with fruits that others must covet, a chair in which 
you could sit with a sense of privilege. Don't suppose that I am 
finding fault. Everything is after its kind. I shall be dis- 
gusted if you don't enjoy your plums and cushioned seat when 
you get them, for they 're all I can provide ... I hope," she 
added, with a smile of deep-seated source, " I hope I can trust 
my Camilla not to put oflE unduly the moment of wishing for 
the grace of God I . . . Now I 've had my story — I am going 
to sleep. A thousand thanks, my child.'* 

When Alice returned for news in the late evening, Camilla 
issued noiselessly from a dark doorway to whisper with her. 
"She sleeps unnaturally . . . Her heart intermits . . . The 
doctor has said not to trouble her. It would be no use." 

" I am going in to be with her." At the door Alice turned 
to say, " You need not stay, since there is nothing more to do." 
And Camilla, whose nerves could hardly bear a thread's weight 
more, admitted gratitude for the release by withdrawing with- 
out protest. 

It seemed to Alice that the room she entered was full of in- 



236 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

visible presences. Also it seemed to her that she left her every- 
day self outside: the person who took her stand by the b^ 
girded for supreme service^ was calm and unafraid. 

Mrs. Northmere^ when not long before she brought her auto- 
biography up to date, had no doubt wondered what would stand 
printed on the last page. Those whom reading the story of her 
long life should make into her friends might thereafter be com- 
forted. Her last hour was watched by one who had toward her 
the heart of a daughter, a loving hand closed her eyes. 

When Alice in the still midnight came out of the room, she 
brought Boss. Through the dark drawing-room she passed into 
the dim-lit antechamber where her maid had fallen asleep wait- 
ing for her, and in looking for Camilla, without force to raise 
her voice and call, she came to a lighted door, the kitchen. She 
stopped at sight of the assemblage there. 

With his elbows on the bare table sat a man in uniform, a 
young woman near him, her elbows beside his. On a chair 
apart, a massive shawled form, holding on by both hands to a 
chaplet of brown beads. Leaning against the wall, a yoimg man 
who was scarcely less white, beneath his brush of inky hair, than 
the white-wash, and whose nostrils, lined with faint, inky fur, 
somehow helped the sad and passionate effect of his whole coun- 
tenance. All people from the working classes. Camilla sat at 
the table whispering with them. 

She started to her feet and came to Alice, they moved a step 
down the passage. Alice's face shone with an unaccustomed, 
steadfast light. The drowned star in the sapphire had risen to 
the surface. 

" No ! No 1 '* Camilla sharply protested, correctly reading her 
expression. "No! It cannot be I The doctor told me . . . 
the doctor told me the stupor would last for many hours 
yet . . r She leaned against the wall, clasping her temples, 
like one trying to collect herself, and realize what she was too 
exhausted to feel. 

To both alike it seemed a strange world, — strange and most 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 237 

void, where that big forge of will and activity had come to a 
standstill. Impossible to adjust oneself to the change. 

^^I have come to ask you for Boss's leash^^' Alice broke the 
spell of silence. 

"At this hour? . . . Why? . . r 

" I am going to take him home with me/' 

Camilla reconquered herself and straightened up, her face ex- 
pressed amazed expostulation. "But Miss Morton, by what 
right? . . r 

Alice lifted a hand, authoritativdy, to keep her from continu- 
ing. " She has left you her money,'' she informed her without 
preamble, " but she has left her dog to me. Please help me to 
find his leash." 

Boss, who associated his leash and the beloved hand of Alice 
on it with delectable walks, followed readily to the door, but 
there, smelling too great a strangeness in all this, he pulled back 
on his collar, refusing to go further. The new mistress knelt 
with tears to persuade him. 

When she had dismissed her family, without a word to them 
of Alice's communication, beyond the fact of the death, Camilla 
took a moment to steady her nerve. She felt strong enough now 
to make a sustained, superhuman effort. One does what one has 
to do. Her heart held its beats, though, when she went into 
the room Alice had left. But there was nothing to be afraid of, 
— no, nothing, though it turned her cold to the bone. 

The benefactress lay, unf athomably serene, composed for sleep, 
like eflSgies on old catiiedral floors. The shaded lamp was burn- 
ing quietly. Camilla lighted a tall new candle and placed it on 
the night-stand at the head of the bed, brought a small table 
to the head of the bed on the other side and stood a lighted 
candle upon that. Going to her own room, she came back with 
a crucifix, which she placed in the hands clasped around Alice's 
violets. To touch them, she had to overcome horror such as 
only the firmest will or deepest affection could have enabled her 
to conquer. 



238 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Drawing off to make sure all had been done that strictest 
fidelity required^ she stood^ shivering slightly; and at contem- 
plation of the unfamiliar familiar lineaments^ feelings she had 
gropingly contended against all these years clutched her^ without 
her understanding them any better than before : regret for some- 
thing she was losing only a little more definitely now than she 
had put it away from her years ago^ the chance of a mother's 
tenderness; resistance to the influence shed from this woman 
no less now than ever, an influence which if not resisted would 
have made Camilla no longer Camilla^ robbed her of her peculiar 
strength, altered her destiny, defeated her hopes. 

The common illusion that the quiet breast had lifted for a 
breath made her turn to flee. . . . But compelling herself, she 
turned again, and after making the sign of the cross over the 
still figure, solemnly crossed herself. Keeping in abeyance 
thoughts of her changed fortune as if they had been tempta- 
tions from the devil, she knelt and prayed for the liberated soul. 

Upon a day when an old woman in South Marshfield, who was 
an early riser, looked over a chestful of cedar-scented wearing- 
apparel, stilling her heart-ache with the thought that her own 
time could not be far; and on an ocean steamer a gentle-looking 
passenger watched through tears the rainbows forming in the 
spray; and in the Cemetery of the Laurels, just by Florence, 
the sun shone bravely upon a newly carved name and inscrip- 
tion, ^' If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I said I go unto 
my Father,*' — in one of Eome's great churches a solemn Mass 
was under way for an unknown departed. Numberless candles 
in luminous phalanx made of the main-altar a rich and starry 
wonder. All the metal flowers were there, all the sacred tinsel. 
As many gorgeous vestments took part in the ceremony as were 
admissible upon the demand for strictly the most sumptuous 
Mass that could be furnished. The censers swung, the organ 
rolled, the voices of the singers floated, '' Beqmem • . . requiem 



. • requiem • . •'' 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 239 

The congregation was not large^ being chiefly composed of 
such faithful as had come in for a quiet weekday prayer^ and 
found this function going on. The general curiosity to know 
more about it was in a small measure satisfied by the sight of a 
black figure isolated on a kneeling-bench in the middle of the 
nave, far forward. For the peace of whatever soul the Mass was 
offered, that no doubt was the person who thus piously honored 
the dead. 

Her mourning was recognized as exceptionally tasteful, the 
face behind her veil was seen to be exquisite. 

Shutting out as far as she could the consciousness of the public, 
the kneeler followed the prayers of the Church in a little ivory 
book. '^ Requiem aetemam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua 
luceat eis I '' 

She presently laid down the book, covered her face from all 
eyes, to pray with greater concentration, and in a moment, behold, 
was addressing, instead of the powers whom the service was 
meant to conciliate, the subject and heroine herself of this Me- 
morial Mass. 

''What there is to forgive, I beg you to forgive,^^ she spoke 
internally. " You must see from where you are that I could do 
no differently. But the things which kept me from loving you 
as I ought are now past, and I vow to you the gratitude which 
I owe. I will cherish your memory with all my heart, of this 
you shall have proof from year to year in the candle lighted 
for you on every anniversary of your death. May (Jod give 
you peace and me prosperity as I shall pray for you as long 
as I live 1 *' 

When she rose at last, and passed in sweeping draperies that 
scented the air like an Oriental garden, all heads were turned 
to look, many flocked after, interested to see her get into her 
carriage. For an individual more enterprising than the rest had 
questioned the liveried coachman, and her name had nimbly 
spread. 

"Who is it?^' asked the deaf old woman at the church-door. 



240 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

of the cripple who begged on the opposite side. ** Who did you 
say it was?'^ 

^' The Princesfi Elagoine, I told you. The Princess E — ^Isr— 
guinel'^ 



BOOK 

OIASX 



1 



CHAPTER I 

THE Morpnrgo^s name was on all lips that season, through- 
out the dominions of the sovereign who chose to honor 
her with very distinguished favor. The Morpurgo had no 
doubt a touch of genius, but the world had not until now dis- 
covered it. This engagement at Montecarlo had been needed 
to give her the certainty of having arrived. She was modest 
under it, being a little woman infinitely good-natured, who, 
when she poured herself forth before the public, throbbing 
like a nightingale, felt something of what she made others 
feel. An artist bom, the caresses of a duchess coidd not fill 
her head. Her enjoyment of them was calm, for which the 
noble melomaniac prized her the more. 

Newspapers sometimes called the favorite beautiful, drawing 
from her a sad headshake and smile. She was one of those 
agreeable ugly women, — fine eyes and hair and teeth, but nose 
too heavy, mouth too wide, head too large, — who achieve beauty 
in their great moments, through inspiration. Dress hdlped her 
but little. She had no taste for it, and, along with this de- 
ficiency, an absence of all small vanity, compatible with the 
greater vanity of believing she could please without taking 
pains. The rouged cheeks of other singers looked banal be- 
side her passionate pallor. As Leonora she wore the good fiat 
black velvet of old-fashioned prima donnas, and did not alter 
the style of her hair-dressing. 

So it was that one night when Trovatore was on, — the man- 
agement treated Montecarlo to one novelty at a time, — and 
she had no change of costume because she chose to have none, 

243 



244 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

she could sit enjoying a brief repose between the aets^ as could 
her dresser also^ a woman who looked the old family servant^ 
and dozed on a chair turned away from the light. 

The dressing-room was no pretty woman^s boudoir. The 
toilet-table supported only the unpoetic necessary things; the 
clothes-pegs no very tempting array; the romance resided all in 
the little plump^ high-mouldered woman^ who had power to 
suggest all romance by using her voice and face in a certain 
way. 

She was very simple off the stage and was now saying to 
Bachert, the manager^ who was often with her between the acts, 
"I am starving, my friend. Nothing hollows you out like 
singing. A nuisance, to be compelled to dine so early and then 
sup so late . . .*' 

The manager threw his arm along the back of the lounge 
on which they were sitting, and contemplated her with the 
smile that expresses both desire and capacity to supply all that 
will be asked. His hair was only gray at the temples. 

" I know of squabs ready this minute to roast on a spit, 
with a slice of fat ham between every two, and I know of a 
salad I shall dress, and of a bottle in the ice . . ** 

" I don^t care what it is. I am not so greedy as I am empty. — 
Decidedly,'* she disgressed, " I must take a long rest and let the 
bloom, the oil, come back on to my voice. The high re to- 
night was like steel wire.*' 

^*I would have the blood of anybody else who dared to say 
sol But the rest you shall have, were it the maddest caprice, 
because you have been a good girl. Where should you like to 
go? Come, you have but to choose. Sea-baths, or German 
springs, or the Engadine?*' 

"No, no. The only place I think of with desire is an old 
villa on the Africo, where my family spent the summers when 
I was a child. But it is sold.** 

" That was Florence, was n*t it? We will buy the villa back, a 
present for a good girl. As for the re, you must not make 
yourself nervous. I heard it, — spun glass. You are in great 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 245 

form, dear friend. I wish the duchess were here. Why is she 
not?'^ 

^^She spoke of an engagement I think there will be 
flowers/' 

"A very good house, nevertheless. The attendance grows 
better and better. It takes this little Irene to draw the clients 
away from the Casino. But . . . Irine cela ne faitM pas rime 
avec sirinef . . .*' He slowed up to enjoy his own mot. " One 
thing/* he bethought himself, " one thing I wish you would do, 
you little siren, and that is get a little warmth, animation, verve, 
into De Segovia.'* 

"De Segovia? . . /* She considered impartially. "No. 
He is much better as he is. If we little Italians should not act 
as well as sing, the public would not stand it. But that in- 
difference to the public of a Spanish gentleman, big, calm, has 
a certain cachet. You see that he receives applause.*' 

" Applause. Would it satisfy you, the applause he receives? 
. . . And you, it is but the beginning." 

"I wish the first night of Faustina were well over!" she 
sighed from the troubled depths of her. 

" Do not I tell you not to make yourself nervous ? You must, 
my dear child, overcome this disposition to make yourself 
nervous. You are incredible in that part, Irene, epatante. The 
day after, the whole world of music will be talking of nothing 
but you. The beginning of great things it will be, much 
greater than any yet. Not simple duchesses will pay their court, 
• — royal princes, kings, queens. We will go around the world 
gathering laurels and raking in napoleons. A second Grisi, 
they will say. And who will be proud of his hand in the 
success, and glad in the glory of the most entirely winning 
little woman in the world ? " He pushed his face a little nearer, 
and filled his eyes with messages. Her faceu without smiling 
back, expressed an uncomplex^eatnre's ^pie-minded likini 
for the hand that strokes her. 

A head was thrust in the half open door. '^ Madame Mor- 
purge ? " The body followed, " A card from one of the boxes. 



» 



246 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Irene glanced over the fine pencil-writing covering both sides 
of the visiting card^ before reading it aloud. ^^ I had come to 
judge for myself of the marvel whose fame has been assailing 
my earS) and what should be my surprise to recognize in the 
Favorite a former school-mate! And you, do you remember 
the Camilla who used to sharpen your pencils and scratch out 
your blots of ink? May she come to see you a minute behind 
the magical scenes ? — Your boxes not being furnished with the 
necessaries for writing, I am using one of my husband's cards/* 
She disengaged the engraved name from the script, ^* Prince 
Constantin Elaguine/' 

" I remember her very well, she was my passion. I adored 
her, as little girls at school often adore the big ones. And so 
she has become a princess! I should indeed like to see her 
again. Have we time?'* 

**A princess? We have time. If necessary we can keep 
the curtain waiting five minutes.** 

A minute later the princess had entered. The two women 
were holding hands, kissing each other*s cheeks, then drawing 
off to look, then drawing together again to kiss, and again 
drawing off to find the old school-mate behind the prima donna 
and the princess. 

^* How little you have changed ! ** said both. 

"It is now how many years since ...?** The Morpurgo 
searched. 

" Not a word of that ! ** the princess checked her. " Let us 
keep the only secret that a woman can!** 

Bachert backed bowing out of the room. 

The Morpurgo however had gone on with her mental arith- 
metic, and gazed at the princess in sincere amazement. By 
this light at least, and arrayed for the Opera, she appeared im- 
touched by time. Her beauty had a peculiar splendor, en- 
hanced no doubt by dress. A sparkling coronet sat among her 
dark, dry, wiry Italian hair, her full figure amidst the imprison- 
ing satin retained grace while achieving stateliness. The bare 
shoulders and bosom seemed the lovelier for a certain generosity 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 247 

of line. The eyes smiled, the teeth smiled, nothing more 
amiable could be seen the world over, the perfume shed from 
her might have been the very aroma of amiability. 

They had sat down, still holding hands. 

** Quickly tell me about yourself, my sweet little Irene of long 
ago, for I know you cannot give me much time. Tell me the 
thousand things that are not in the newspapers. But first, are 
you married?** 

"A widow, my dear. My marriage lasted but one year. 
That ending was the beginning of my career. You have not 
heard of me, but I have been singing here and there for ten 
years and more.^* 

'* And your parents ? ** 

*' I have my mother still, — she would be with me here, but 
I sent her back to Florence to take care of her health.*' 

"The old business is given up? She was a dressmaker, I 
remember, and a very fashionable one.** 

"Yes, and my father a painter, very unfashionable, do you 
remember that too?** 

"I remember everything! I remember that you adored 
farina dolce, petite espiigle, and you would get under your desk- 
lid for a secret lick, and reappear looking so innocent, your 
little nose all white with chestnut-flour ! ** 

" That a princess should remember such things ! . . . When 
did you become a princess, Camilla? The last I heard of you, 
— oh, it was long ago 1 — you had gone away with an old lady, as 
her traveling companion.** 

" Traveling-companion, in a sense . . . but not as one would 
understand it without further explanation. A very distinguished 
woman, well-known in the literary circles of all countries, had 
taken an extraordinary fancy to me, and so as not to be deprived 
of my society took me traveling with her, in state and luxury.** 

" And how long have you been married ? ** 

" Nine years, my dear. I cannot myself believe it. How the 
time goes 1 ** 

" And where do you live? For I do not suppose it is here.** 



248 THE TBUTH ABOUT CA:MILLA 

^^ We travel a great deal^ but when we are chez nous it is in 
Paris. A little crumbling hotet, between court and garden, in 
the faubourg, — oh^ a pigeon-house, for we are disgustingly 
poor/' 

^'One sees itl*' 

^' I assure you. We have not even an auto.'' 

^^ And the prince^ is he in the box, that I may look for 
him from the comer of my eye? '* 

^'He was there, but I suspect I shall not find him when I 
return, he will have made his escape and gone to the Casino. 
I must tell you that I am not fond of Montecarlo, but he 
is, and I come from time to time on his account. Yes, I am 
that sort of wife. If it pleases him to lose a little at the tables, 
as long as it is not too much. . . . But I do not care for 
rouge et noir, and after a few days I find the place tiresome. 
One knows so few, every one is de passage, one is almost ashamed 
to exhibit the indecent joy that fills one when a face turns up 
from Paris. But now I have foimd you I am consoled for 
the rest of it. You will come to see me?'* 

"Alas, I go nowhere, can go nowhere, until after the first 
performance of Faustina." 

"Ah, yes, Faustina, I know. You are creating the part. 
You dear angel, here I have been talking about myself and 
never telling you that I find you divine when you sing, out 
and out divine! Accept my compliments, Irene, ma cherie, 
you are an artist. I have heard the best singing in all coun- 
tries, I am mad over it, and I tell you unhesitatingly that you 
are an artist. What can one say more?" 

"One moment. ... Is that the orchestra? Listen. . . . 
Yes, they have begun, and I must have a minute to collect 
myself." 

"I am going. When shall we see each other, for I do not 
consent to be altogether put off?" 

" If you would be willing to come to me, and not be offended 
if I treat you very informally . . ." 

" I am tired to the soul of formality ! " 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 249 

^^ Come to-morrow at three^ when I shall have a minute be- 
tween the corvee of the costumer and a rehearsal/' 

At the door, the Morpurgo looked up and down for a figure 
in a pepper-and-salt business suit, and not finding it, called 
toward a figure in velvet doublet and silk tights, " De Segovia, 
will you be so good as to show Princess Elaguine the way 
back to her box?'* 

« 

To few is it given to see their dreams solidify, but Camilla, 
for nine years, had actually been having the life she had dreamed 
in the days when she darned Mrs. Northmere's hose; had been 
treating herself to just the sort of glorious time her large-minded 
old mistress had with open eye been willing to promote. A 
brilliant figure she had cut, if not in absolutely the best world, 
in a world full as amusing, and as the envy of the crowd was 
breath to that chiseled nostril, and worldly show food to that 
undimmed green eye, she rested upon a sense of success. 

But is reality at its best ever quite equal to the dream? . . . 

It was not Camilla's weakness to ask too much of life; she 
stipulated for certain things, and was willing to account the 
missing of certain other things as payment. Nobody gets every- 
thing, she knew that A great deal, that one should be able 
to live in decent amity with the man to whom one owes the 
title of princess ; a great deal, if one must on one side practise 
shrewdest thrift, that one should be able on the other hand 
and at the effective moment to spend with dash; a great deal, 
if one must observe strict boundaries in order to retain the 
prestige of correct conduct, that one should still have had the 
satisfaction of saying in tones of easy intimacy, ^^ Colonna, will 
you ring for my carriage?*' "Prangipane, I have dropped 
my handkerchief." *^ Casamassima, foolish man, remember that 
I am married." No, Camilla could not complain. All had gone 
as well as a reasonable person could expect. Nay, when she con- 
sidered her beauty, how be gratefid enough that it had stood 
faithfully by her, fbrm and finished like her own Tuscan hills, or 
like the work of Tuscan old masters ? And her health, that even 



250 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

good health of persons alike determined and fortunate! . . . Li« 
deed^ she had every reason to call herself happy^ and did so. Her 
wishes had had such vitality that at the end of nine years zest 
still pertained to the fulfilment of ihem. Her relish of her 
position returned to be as keen as at the very first whenever she 
got the full flavor of it anew^ as she did for instance on meeting 
again her old school-mate. Irene had been but a year at Miss 
Heller's. She had known Camilla as the girl who took all the 
advanced courses and elegant extras. In the little city of 
Florence, where everything is known about everybody, some- 
thing just occasionally escapes the ear of somebody. . . . But 
whether Irene knew or not the circumstances of Ciuoiilla's final 
years at Institut Heller, it was equally gratifying to reappear 
before her now as a princess. 

Camilla quarreled not with her fate, far from it. What then 
could there have been, but the fact that a state enjoyed for nine 
years has lost one charm at least, that of novelty, to explain 
the point of discontent with her own condition, as well as a 
point of envy of the prima donna, brought away by the princess 
from her visit behind the scenes? Or was it simply that Ca- 
milla's destiny was at work, that a period was rounding to its 
close, and the psychical moment upon her, when she got a whiiBE 
of that world new to her, and found it attractive, as Tltania 
found the weaver, because a weird thing had happened to her 
eyes ? 

She must have got it all through atmosphere, for it was 
little she saw in her walk from stage-door to Irene's dressing- 
room and back: the rough reverse of wings and flies, the bare 
boards, gas-jets hissing in wire cages, a few flgures in feudal 
costume who turned painted faces as she passed, a stage-carpenter 
looking doubly haggard beside their artiflcial bloom, and the 
Trovatore, in velvet doublet and silk tights, who walked beside 
her without a word but Good-evening at the end of his mission. 

The ennui of Montecarlo was in part responsible no doubt 
for the thought which formed, containing a disproportionate 
gladness, the thought of renewing the intimacy with Irene, and 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 261 

getting what fun and flavor were to be gotten from becoming 
acquainted with her world. Irene, owing to the duchess, was 
a personage at this moment, the whole institution of Opera 
caught glamour from her. 

The music aflfected Camilla in a special way after her return 
to the box, where she found no prince, but only old Madame 
Laskaraky. ... A rich world, that world of artists, room in it 
for one's whole nature to expand and find food. Under the 
influence of the insidiously sweet strains, Camilla felt how her 
own nature was cramped. 

Something of her envy she voiced to the Morpurgo, when she 
went to see her next day at her hotel. She expressed it with 
exaggeration, by way of compliment. " Ah, you have the best 
of it, my dear! We poor people of the world, with our petty 
amusements, our miserable conventionality, peuh! But you, the 
triumphs, the tributes, the full life, the power, the liberty ! ** 

**It has its good side,*' the Morpurgo admitted moderately, 
*' but we after all have crowns of tinseV* she took her hand at 
compliment, *^and the real crowns are yours. We have feasts 
of paste-board, and you get the real things to eat ! '^ 

^^Ah, but look at us! Look at us! ... In order to see a 
duke comport and clothe himself like a duke, we must come 
to you!'* 

" But we have to sing very well indeed before a duchess will 
accept us ! '* 

" I insist upon it that you have the best of it I There is an 
ease and gaiety about your lives, you laugh and love and follow 
your impulses . . /^ 

" Yes. For that reason you polite people won't receive us." 

**And here am I pursuing her, forcing myself upon her, 
snatching the minute she allows me between a fitting and a 
rehearsal ! . . . Send me away without ceremony, Irene, when it 
is time for you to leave.'' 

'*We rehearse here, the others are coming to me." 

"It is not with the orchestra then?" 



262 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

'^ No, it is a scene from a manuscript opera of Salvadori's, the 
composer of Faustina^ you know. We are to sing it as chamber- 
music for the Duchess. She is mad over Salvadori^ and we are 
preparing this as a compliment • • • There comes a knock. I 
told you I had but a moment.'' 

*^ Let me remain while you rehearse, Irene. I promise to keep 
still as a mouse in my comer. It would amuse me to see you 
all at home.** 

**The menagerie I But you won't see us at home, for we 
shall know that a princess is present." 

^No, just your old friend and school-mate." 

*' But we shaVt be able to fight, and Monsieur Bachert, who 
takes the piano, won't be able to curse and insidt us. We sha'n't 
get ahead at all." 

"I am going to stay, there. Don't present me or explain. 
I am n'importe qvi that does n't matter." 

Bachert had come in. "You do us too much honor," he 
clothed his resignation in the perfect disguise of good manners, 
when Irene had communicated the princess's desire. 

The Zepperelli, who had been Azucena last night, was next to 
arrive. A woman of the common people, lifted from the ranks 
of labor by the gift of a melodious storm-wind of a voice, she 
took as natural the omission in her case of a presentation to the 
fine lady, probably attached to Court, whom she found installed 
as audience at the far end of the room. 

At sight of the stranger in the isolated armchair, her breezy 
speaking voice had dropped to a murmur. "And De Segovia? 
And Sarti ? Where are they ? " 

Bachert was preluding. " We can go over the duet until they 
arrive. Between them, it is to be hoped they will remember 
the appointment." 

"They are always together," Irene spoke across the room to 
the visitor, to keep her from feeling neglected. " We call them 
brothers at arms, because they spend all their time in the salle 
d^armes fencing, and are inseparable besides. 

As if in illustration of this remark, a knock was here fol- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 253 

lowed by the entrance^ as close together as man and dog, of 
the well-grown, deep-chested Cuban tenor and the undersized, 
deep-chested Neapolitan baritone. Both becoming conscious of 
an outsider, Sarti checked a stream of jocular scurrility on the 
subject of the manuscript opera and its perpetrator; De Segpvia 
after a glance of inquiry silently bowed. 

There was a minute of general constraint, and the rehearsing 
began. 

The princess could not but wake to the fact, after a time, that 
she was in the way. Word had gone from one to the other, as it 
seemed to her, and they were playing a comedy, the caricature 
of a singing class when royalty is visiting the school. 

She jumped up and came to the piano. " It was stupid of me 
not to know I should hinder you. Lay it to my ignorance and 
forgive it, will you not? . . .'* She looked from one to the 
other, her brilliant face all embarrassment and appeal, ^'How 
is one to know? I have spoiled your afternoon, and I go away 
feeling mortified, ohi . . « Let us do this. Irene, explain to 
them that I am not on all occasions such a mar-feast, and bring 
them to sup with me after the opera one of these evenings at 
everybody's convenience. Will you? . . . Yes, come, all of you! 
You must sup somewhere, and you ought to desire to lay a little 
balm to my feelings. Irene, like an angel^ arrange it. Au revoir 
and, as I hope, d bientdtl '* 



CHAPTEB II 

WHEN Elagaine understood what was going to happen that 
evenings a deeper gloom^ an exasperated weariness^ 
overcast his countenance. The singers of the Opera were coming 
to sup with his wif e^ and incidentally himself^ he was requested 
to grace the repast by his presence. 

Near eleven o^clock, having come away from Bigoletto before 
the endy the princess was with her own hands rearranging the 
table to more artistic effect, — a big round table set up in their 
private drawing-room, and showing the very best that the best 
hotel can do. 

''What is the need of all those flowers, and those many 
glasses ? '^ he asked. As that order of remark was common with 
him, and did not denote any increase of ill-humor, it gave no 
offense, one was used to it. 

*' I wish my table to-night to look at least the equal of the 
supper-table in Traviata. Think what their eyes are accustomed 
tol'' 

''Why not, by a little modesty, decent economy, point the 
difference between the usages of the demi-monde and those of 
good society?^' 

" My only desire is that they shall enjoy themselves. I shall 
have much to do to efface the impression of the other day. 
Never have you seen me so genial, Constantine, as I shall be 
to-night.*^ 

" If you are going to labor for the suffrage of a band of singers, 
let me off, Camilla, let me go quietly to bed." 

^'Jamais de la vie! You are part of what I am offering 
them in amends, — the very best I havel Don^t imagine any- 

254 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 255 

how that they are all impossible. The manager, I assure you, 
is un homme ires Hen. And there is one of them who, mon 
cher, if he does not come from as good a world as you and I, 
at least has the appearance of it, De Segovia/' 

^^That heavy young tenor with teeth like peeled almonds? 
You are not suggesting him as one in whom I shall find re- 
sources of conversation? I see him at the Casino. I should not 
imagine he ever took the trouble to speak.'' 

" He takes the trouble to sing." 

" Not much trouble, Camilla." 

" He has a most beautiful voice ! " 

*'That I grant, and beautiful curls, — which will do for the 
success of a tenor I . . . Tell me, Madame Laskaraky — or Zas- 
soulitch," he raised his voice to a sour crow at the elderly lady 
who sat absorbed in the business of pulling and smoothing out 
the gloves she had taken off, that they might retain the new 
feeling longer, ''tell me, when you see the curls of the tenor 
De Segovia, those curls that look as if molded in bronze, and 
yet give the idea that they are soft to the touch, do you not feel 
the desire to plunge your white fingers among them ? " 

" I do ! " came from the old woman, in trumpet tones. 

" Which will do for the success of a tenor 1 " the prince re- 
peated. '' You heard our friend Laskaraky . . . or Zassoulitch?'* 

A spark leaped to life in Camilla's eye, her face of balmy 
amiabUity stiffened np, discarding a good deal of its sweetness. 
That joke, Laskaraky or Zassoulitch, which never failed to irri- 
tate her, always indicated in Constantine a disposition to be 
unpleasant. She was surprised at him, at his choosing this mo- 
ment to annoy her. Often one or other of them did not like 
what the other one did, but they were in the habit of diplo- 
matically yielding to each other, each for his own interest in 
finding an accommodating partner. She had known that he 
would not like this supper, but did she not put a good face on 
more than one thing she did not like, afin de faire ton menage f 
Of course he would not like the supper, — an expense promising 
no return whatever, as far as he was concerned. That man had 



256 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

no bonhomie. • But then he had plenty of savoir vivre, and she 
should have thought that when she was in Monteearlo solely to 
oblige him, he would see the impropriety of grudging her any 
amusement she might find there. This supper must bore him 
indeed, to obscure the practical justice, a match for her own, 
which, take it altogether, made him such a possible person to 
live with. She wondered had she better put him in his place 
here and now. The spark in her eye burned hotter. Then the 
strong creature reflected that if they were both out of temper 
it would hardly be the merry little supper she had intended, and 
she laid aside her anger for a more convenient time. 

^'We must have Aunt Masha seated between us,'^ she said, 
instead of a more stinging thing. '^Aunt Masha,'^ she ad- 
dressed the old lady in a muffled bawl, **you will sit between 
Constantine and me ! '^ 

'^ I am not deaf ! ^' said Aimt Masha. 

Any occasion would have borrowed dignity from the presence 
of this Madame Laskaraky — or Zassoulitch, this Aunt Masha. 
Had Elaguine not looked half as distinguished as he did, the 
words, " My husband's Aunt,'* when Camilla presented the com- 
pany to her, would have given him standing. Aristocracy does 
not invariably look aristocratic. Aunt Masha embodied the ideal 
of aristocracy. Features, bearing, manner, brought up the im- 
age of noble stage-settings, thoughts of exclusiveness, select aims 
and occupations. Her nose had the right hump, the thick black 
half-moons of her eyebrows the right authority. An uncom- 
promising mustache did but add to her commanding aspect. 

" It reminds me of the first act in the Lady of the Camellias,'* 
she came out in a vibrant contralto, with a wave of her hand to- 
ward the tropical luxuriance of the board. She then returned 
to taciturn absorption in thoughts worthy of her, departing 
from it shortly to circle aroimd the table, piddng off bits 
that would not be missed from the garnishing of the dishes, a 
segment of hard-boiled egg, an olive, a trifle of galantine, to stay 
her fainting stomach. Camilla's glance kept after her, to see 
she did not disturb the appearance of things too much. As 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 257 

she was possessing herself of a lobster-claw, a restraining hand 
finally fell on her, " Mais, voyons, Hortense! " 

"Ah, vraiment!" shrugged she, docilely putting back the 
claw. "It is that they make themselves waited for!'* 

"Here they come! . . . Ah! The pretty surprise!" Ca- 
milla greeted them, clapping her hands like a delighted child, 
"Ah, que c'est gentil d vous tons! You delicious persons! 
Adorable ! . . . What a pleasant thought you had there ! How 
merry ! How amusing ! Come, Irene, that I may embrace you 
for your charming idea ! " 

Irene was standing in front of the rest, holding open a long 
black mantle, to show herself in a man's costume and tall rid- 
ing-boots. " We came as we were, so as not to keep you wait- 
ing." 

She looked absurd enough, with her clipped-in waist, her exu- 
berant feminine figure unmodified by masculine dress, a boy's 
cap set on her rich frizzy, up-piled hair. But one has seen Gil- 
das, Siebels, Urbanos, until one forgets how funny they are. 

"Has not somebody said that punctuality is the politeness 
owed to princes ? " asked Bachert, smiling and very much at his 
ease in correct dress-suit. 

The Zepperelli, scarlet-kirtled and tinkling with trumpery 
necklaces, held on to her brazenness as Maddalena, to help her 
face it out in this too elevated company. She laughed and 
shook her great hoop-earrings as she passed in on review. 

Sarti, with powder, the frost of age, clinging in his black 
hair, and the crayon lines that made him old and sad still on his 
face, solemnly imitated as he entered the shambling gait of a 
hunchback, giving it a twist of comic. 

De Segovia came last, in the black velvet of a noble going about 
his pleasures incognito. He alone had washed off his makeup, 
and from his lace collar upward looked a private gentleman. 
The exigencies of the profession notwithstanding, he refused to 
go clean shaven. Impresarios might have what views they 
pleased, he was to take or to leave with a curly bronze beard. 
The cool burliness of his demeanor was always in proportion to 



268 THE TRUTH ABOXJT CAMILLA 

his secret constraint. A dignified nonchalance covered to-night 
his fear of appearing gauche. Not being of an analytical tum^ 
of these things he was unconscious. 

** We will not wait an instant I '* the princess cheered them. 
" I know you are starving. Seat yourselves without ceremony, 
everybody as he will 1 '* 

The prince offered his arm to Irene, whom an unaffected air 
of suffering isolated from the rest. She had not had time to 
shake off the part she had been singing. 

Bachert assumed a right above the others to the seat next his 
hostess. 

Camilla had intended a merry little supper, so left nothing to 
chance. Her vivacity dragged the guests after her till they 
had got a speed of their own. She made herself one of them 
so gaily that by the second glass of champagne they felt as 
much at home, nearly, as if Madame Laskaraky and the prince 
had not been there. Irene, having warmed to the work of re- 
pairing the waste to the system of burning with divine fire, was 
finding an appetite worthy of the splendid double row of teeth 
displayed as, relaxed and happy, she laughed at the same time as 
she ate. 

The prince did not do his share at all badly. But when 
he recognized the brand of champagne, literally the best, his 
conversation with Irene took a more pronounced smack of cyni- 
cism. She felt herself by every token in very good company in- 
deed, yet not knowing how to reply in the same taste, began to 
desire a lower level, and was relieved when Camilla called to 
her with a question, and the talk became general. 

If only they had not fallen upon that subject! Faustina. 
Felix would n<ft understand. It was he no doubt who had 
started it. 

The interest shown by Camilla was enormous, glowing. Ca- 
milla was enormously, glowingly interested in everything to- 
night. 

Sarti pulled up in his joking upon the avoirdupois of Cesarina 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 259 

Zepperelli, who had sat on his knee in the carriage that brought 
the five of them^ to hear what was said about Faustina. 

De Segovia ceased twirling his champagne glass by the 
stem, while nimble lackeys changed the plates, to listen what 
more or different about Faustina . . . 

Nothing more, nothing different. Only the manager with the 
old emphasis telling a new person. 

" But it must be amazing, extraordinary ! ** exclaimed the 
princess. " Irene, my dear, what a part for you ! Every oppor- 
tunity, hein. Monsieur Bachert? The display of feminine arts 
and seduction, then passion, cruelty, then terror, then the su- 
preme effort to feign and conceal the horror which is killing 
you . . . Ah, ce sera empoignant!" 

" Don't speak of it 1 '^ Irene made a weak movement of re- 
pelling something. "It is too much, it crushes me." 

" She is too modest 1 '^ said Camilla. " We will hear what she 
says the day after, n'esUce-pasf I promise you she will never 
be modest again! . . . And you. Monsieur de Segovia," the 
sparkling hostess, remembering that there was one of her guests 
whom she had not yet directly and separately addressed, now 
made a point of singling him out for some fiattering expression 
of interest, " what is your part in the new piece ? " 

Before he could answer, Bachert had spoken for him, with the 
excuse of doing it more warmly and amply than he could have 
done for himself. " He is the lover. Regardez-moi ce gargon 
Id, and picture him in the costume of a Captain of the Pretorian 
Guard! The great helmet, you know, the leather and bronze 
armor close to the body, the spear and shield." 

Camilla, while looking as bidden at the Cuban, divided from 
her by the breadth of the table, nodded sweetly as if — yes, 
she could see the picture. Baising her glass, " Monsieur de Se- 
govia, I drink to your success ! " she said, then waited till he had 
raised his glass too and looked over at her in response. "To 
your success!" she repeated, and touched a dainty lip to the 
foaming brim. 



260 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

With an effect^ at unexpected honor^ of waking from a leth- 
argy, he drank, keeping shyly-bold, full brown eyes — the kind 
of eyes that hardly know a medium between reserve and reck- 
lessness, — attentive upon the smiling eyes of the lady. Thirst 
on gallantry, he drank to the last drop, and in setting down his 
glass contrived to break it. 

"Ah, Manuel 1'^ sighed Sarti, who looked younger and 
younger, darker and darker, and whose black eye rolled in oily 
luster. " Manuel, that you, my best friend, should always play 
me such tricks as you do at the theater! To-night it is my 
daughter you take, but how often it is my wife. And now in 
Faustina again. I am cast for the poor magnanimous emperor, 
princess. Is it not sad to be a baritone ? '' 

" Ah, but how you revenge yourself when you do the Tore- 
ador I '* 

" My favorite part I But don't you think it impertinent, ar- 
bitrary, in the composers, so all but invariably to appoint vic- 
tory to the tenor over the baritone and bass?'* Sarti's fluent 
French smacked strongly of Southern Italy. 

By what airy jeu d' esprit Camilla would have replied cannot 
be faiown, for her mind was turned from what she was about 
to say by hearing Elaguine snicker. 

The prince had for some time ceased taking part in the con- 
versation, and not been missed. He was, with elbows outspread, 
chin not far from his plate, the careless manner of one eating 
in solitude, peeling himself a winter pear. He snickered so that 
nobody could fail to hear him, and looked more than ever like 
a dead-eyed Mephistopheles gripped by humorous reflections 
while busy with a pear. The table held its chatter to hear what 
should follow this, which certainly sounded like the prologue to 
a pointed saying. Elaguine peeled on. In a moment, " Aunt 
Masha,'* he pronounced very neatly, " the question is asked why 
in opera success in love is always awarded to the tenor? I 
tell them it is the brutal realism of art ! " 

The room rang with laughter, in truth not very hearty, from 
which Manuel's voice was conspicuously absent, — he could not 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 261 

be certain that the remark was void of offense, — and Camilla's, 
who felt disgust, somehow. 

*^If you knew," she swung the conversation into a different 
avenue, "the violence I had to do myself to come away before 
the end of the evening ! Only anxiety to make sure you would 
not be treated too badly could have made me miss that wonder- 
ful quartet. Ah, that quartet! That quartet I'' She rolled 
up her eyes. 

"The quartet? You missed it?*' asked Bachert. 

" I ran home like a good little bourgeoise to give an eye to 
my table.'* 

"And you are fond of the quartet? But then . . ." Bach- 
ert dropped the last of his cigarette into the last of his coffee, 
" What so easy ? You shall have it ! Are we not all here, and 
very much at your service ? Venez, mes enfants. ' Bella figlia/ 
as a good-night." 

He seated himself at the piano and sent his hands flying up 
and down the keys. At this stage of digestion, he felt surer 
than ever that Faustina would be a success. 

The singers, all in sovereign good humor, took their places — 
but not quite as promptly as might have been, — at his sides. 

" With these crammed crops that we *ve got, really, Bachert," 
Sarti murmured for the ear of the accompanist alone, "it's 
crueliy to your little pigeons I" He tenderly felt his dia- 
phragm. 

" Where do you suppose we are going to find breath ? '' whis- 
pered the Zepperelli, trying unnoticed to ease the laces of her 
black velvet peasant-bodice. 

Irene's face from flushed had turned pale, or else it deceived 
you by taking the expression of pallor. Warm with wine and 
good cheer, she could look sincerely, convincingly stricken, from 
the moment she imagined herself in the shoes of the hapless 
Gilda. 

Manuel, with the light swagger of his part, began, ** Bella figlia 
deir amo-o-O'O^e!" . . . The walls reverberated, the air wav- 
ered, as at the play of organ-pipes. At the point he had reached 



262 THE TBXJTH ABOXJT CAMILLA 

of pleasure in life he did not see the propriety of moderating his 
voice; he let out the whole power of his lungs, making a gift of 
his whole gift to the affable hostess. 

The others when they came in must, so as to keep their voices 
at the right value in relation to his^ sing as he did^ all stops 
out. . . . The prisms tinkled on the girandoles, ocean-waves of 
sound rolled and beat about the restricted, encumbered drawing- 
room, as if they would dislocate the stones. 

The prince backed away from the piano till he touched a door, 
when he vanished, like Mephisto through a trap. 

Camilla, with the instinct that something ought to be let out, 
opened the tall window on to the hotel garden, where after a 
moment, late as it was, she perceived figures gathering to listen. 
They were only sleepy waiters, probably, but all people are im- 
pressible . . . Not a small glory to have the Opera-singers 
patronized by the duchess singing in one*s private apartment like 
that, and singing with what entrain! 

As they were doing all this for her, Camilla must be seen to 
appreciate it. She stood with the clasped hands and bent head 
of a devotee, marking her emotions by fiutterings of the eyelids 
and small, stifled sighs. Lovely she looked, and knew it, stand- 
ing as if posed for her portrait, with her gold-colored satin train 
curled around her feet, her breath coming and going behind a 
bosom stiff with pearl embroideries. 

The swirling, melodious din had an action on her nerves, ex- 
cited, intoxicated her. As a canary-bird, in a room where there 
is gossiping, will burst forth into emulative trills, Camilla, when 
the music ended and her thanks had done it loud and enthusi- 
astic justice, turned to Aunt Masha, who had sat through it like 
a rock in the surging sea, and uttered the praise of the singers 
in a flood of rapid Bussian. . . . 

Bussian was a comparatively new accomplishment, which Ca- 
milla still found pleasure in showing off. 



CHAPTER III 

FOB a week Camilla did not go to the Opera, nor did she see 
any of the singers, to speak to them. She sent flowers to 
Irene with a note to say that she felt discretion and friendship 
both demanding of her to keep afar until after the great event. 

Three words had wiped the gloss off the musical world which 
Camilla h^d been so generously ready to take to her heart. 

In an unimportant domestic interchange Elaguine had al- 
luded to his lady as an opera-bouffe princess. She had alluded 
to him in terms that showed full as able marksmanship, which 
did not prevent those three barbed words from sticking in her 
skin. 

Cotton-back velvet princess, he had called her once; and 
though much water had flowed under the bridges since that day, 
she had never been able to forget. And now opera-bouffe 
princess. She had seen herself herded in the same camp with 
those maskers at her table, distaste had seized her for their melt- 
ing grease-paint and imitation lace. 

She would have liked to feel as little respect for Elaguine's 
opinions as he often showed for hers. But Elaguine so infal- 
libly knew what is what. Where was the use of pretending he 
did not? 

If she was not to have the singers for her toy, Camilla would 
have liked to leave Montecarlo. But Elaguine was not ready to 
leave, and she did not for the moment desire to cross him. 

At a loss for anything else to do, she offered one afternoon 
to go with him to the Casino. She dressed so that not the 
deadest of men could be sorry to show himself with a bird of 

263 



264 THE TEXJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

such plumage. She heard their name whispered as they passed, 
or fancied that she did. 

Before taking his place at the green board, the prince, with 
the excessive courtesy that distinguished his, as it were, official 
manner toward his wife, asked if she woidd not venture a few 
louis to-day. She shook her head. She saw no fun in the 
thing. One took even chances of losing only if one could do no 
otherwise. 

She stood behind his chair for a while, to watch. But the 
game opened badly for him, and the spectacle of her money 
running through his fingers soon got on her nerves. Suspect- 
ing herself of having a bad influence upon his fortunes, she 
moved on, with Madame Laskaraky in tow, who always accom- 
panied her when the princess close attendance could not be counted 
upon. Good form was sacrificed to, even when hated exceed- 
ingly. 

Down the vast painted halls they slowly went, seeking vaguely, 
and to-day vainly, for familiar faces. The temple of fortune, 
known by its fruits of despair and death, looked cheerful and in- 
nocent. An old ladies* tea-party would have been noisier, more 
disorderly, than the tables from which some would by-and-by 
rise enriched, others undone. They might have been tables in a 
monastery refectory, and the croupier a godly brother reading 
the life of some saint, for any excitement that appeared. 

*' I feel it in my blood that I should be lucky to-day,'* said 
Aunt Masha, longingly. 

Camilla fixed on her a scrutinizing eye, to judge if she 
looked lucky, and, with a faith she had in presentiments, re- 
turned to the table \nrhere Elaguine sat, and saw that room was 
made beside him for the Aunt. She lingered to make sure the 
old lady's blood would be justified. Yes, Aunt Masha placed on 
red, and red was called. She placed on odd, and odd it was. 
Broad silver disks were piling up before her. But when she 
boldly threw a gold piece on a number they saw it whisked away. 
Camilla turned her back, it annoyed her so. She walked oflf 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 265 

with a plausible eflfect of unconcern, but when she found herself 
at the opposite side of the table she could not refrain from look- 
ing over at her two, to see how they were getting on. Constan- 
tine had just drawn in something, making his fingers into a 
rake. Aunt Masha had raked in too, but listen! . . . Some- 
body protesting, '' Madame a pris ma piice! Madame a pris ma 
piece!" 

Elaguine stonily feigned that Madame was no affair of his, 
and Madame with stolid, high-bom face let the protest pass un- 
heard. Camilla felt herself blushing. But Aunt Masha's face 
carried the day. A voice impatiently assured the plaintiff that 
he must have been mistaken, and the game went on. 

As she watched an English couple, travelers of high class, 
standing like herself behind the line of those seated, and reach- 
ing across a barrier of shoulders to toss their coins, Camilla 
could not but marvel at the completeness of their indifference in 
losing. They gambled, on the face of it, only because being in 
Montecarlo it was the thing to do. It seemed to her all the 
same that even at a game of chance it showed something lacking 
in character or intelligence to lose continually. 

She was convinced that she woidd have been luckier. To test 
this she began betting mentally, and found her belief con- 
firmed. She settled on black — because her hair was black, — 
and black came out; she staked on even,— the years of her age 
being even, — and even turned up. 

At this moment, as with a little throb of excitement she bent 
forward to see more of the green cloth, she became aware of a 
head she was in danger of brushing. It was clothed in a close 
cap of curls that looked as if molded in bronze, yet gave the 
idea that they would be soft to stroke . . . De Segovia^s, no- 
body else's. Diverted from her own fruitless pursuit, she was 
touched with interest to see how the game was going with him. 

She might have known he woidd not be lucky. His indif- 
ference was at least equal to that of the English swells. His 
hand, when he drew in the two poor louis she saw him win, was 



266 THE TRUTH ABOXJT CAMILLA 

not turned into a claw like Constantine's and the other hands; 
he swept his pitiful winnings along the baize with the cush- 
ioned edge of his palm. 

** Why does a man gamble, when he has no more aptitude than 
that?'' thought Camilla, between impatience and sympathy. 
^ It 's a gentlemanly taste/' she owned to herself. " This poor 
baby certainly loses like the right hidalgo." 

On either side of him sat persons playing according to sys- 
tems, pencils at hand and papers covered with numbers. De 
Segovia looked up and oflf while waiting for the ivory pill 
to have done rattling, as if he followed the flight of a fly, 
and were thinking more of that than the serious business in 
hand. 

As he turned his face a little, she observed how the sap of 
life so filled him that not one crease was yet in the delicate skin 
of the eye-socket. Her eye leaving him, in a sort of wonder at 
finding him younger than, owing to his beard perhaps, she had 
thought, was caught by Elaguine at the other end of the table, 
and she saw him as if she returned from a long journey. Those 
sagging lines, that pouch beneath the tired, neutral-tinted eye — 
Could it be that he was only fifty-three, as he stated? 

" Play on black this time," she whispered to De Segovia. 

He turned, got to his feet to shake hands, and pressed her to 
have his seat. No. No. She required him to sit down, and, 
** Play on black this time," she repeated. " How much have you 
lost already?" 

"I have not counted." They were silent while the wheel 
spun. " Ah ? . . . Black wins ! " 

" Play on black again, twice as much ! " 

" I obey you, Madame." He waited with the same careless- 
ness. ** Ah ? . . . Black wins again ! " 

^* Now play, doubling again, on black 1 " 

" On black again ? As you command ! " He appeared 
slightly more interested. " Pardieu! Black wins once more ! " 

"Again! . . . Again on black!" She was on the verge of 
trembling with excitement. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 267 

"You are an enchantress, I see . . . Black wins/' He let 
out a wondering breath. 

" Have you the courage ? Still on black ! ** 

"StiU? . . . With aU my heart!'' 

As black was called again he swung round to look at her^ 
and several turns passed while they tasted their wonder and 
amusement, because red had come out the moment they stopped 
betting on black. 

'' A Vomvre! To work, to work again, since we are in vein I " 
she summoned him. " Bet on even ! " 

It seemed incredible, an even number came out. 

''What is this thing upon me?" Camilla asked of herself, 
feeling like one in a dream. 

*' We must dare more," she said eagerly, " but not too much 
more," she restrained herself. '' Try that little pile on the cross 
between the four numbers, there . . . where I am pointing, 
near the 8 . . ." 

It was the 8 precisely that came out. 

Camilla pressed her hand over her eyes, to bring them round 
to seeing true. She was pale. With the sense of a great mo- 
ment to be seized before reason or prudence could get in its 
word, "Place maximum on 36," she commanded, ^' en pleint 
Be quick ! Be quick ! " 

She was not surprised when she heard 36 called, she related 
afterwards, she had been sure it would come out. 

For an instant she feared she might burst into tears. But 
the instant after that she was laughing, and, for a right finale 
to her scene, deemed it most effective to slip away and vanish, 
leaving De Segovia to collect his dues amid the commotion of 
surprise, envy, and congratulation, that had risen around his 
good fortune. 

She did not know what to do with the elation possessing her ; 
it was too much to keep in, yet had no form in which to come 
out. The only thinkable relief would have been to talk about 
it^ and there was no one she cared to tell. . . . 



268 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Li the night she lived the singular experience over and over. 
What would be thought, when the report of it spread? Had 
such a thing happened to any one before? Of course, there had 
been individuals who broke the bank . . . But a run of suc- 
cessful guesses such as that ! . . . 

For herself, Camilla made no mistake. Her inspiration had 
been directly from the devil, a snare spread former eventual 
ruin, — which snare she proposed to defeat by never tempting 
fortime at a game of chance on her own account. A pity almost, 
that she had not been playing for herself, this solitary 
time! . . . She made mental computation. ... A tidy sum. 
Still, she did not acutely regret that the matter stood as it did, 
to her loss in pocket, but increase in fame. 

She foresaw a pretty notoriety attaching to her during the 
rest of her stay on the field of her exploit, a respectful following 
with eyes of interest, naming with bated breath, the princess 
who, not vulgarly, for her own profit, but like a very princess in 
a fairy-story, had taken a hand in the game to golden results. 

The individuals near when she prompted De Segovia would 
have noticed nothing, being absorbed in their own moves. But 
De Segovia^ would relate the adventure to somebody, — Sarti, 
at the least . . . Unless delicacy kept him from it. On the 
other hand, to set up this matter as a secret between them would 
not be quite delicate either. 

She placed herself imaginatively in De Segovia's bones, to get 
his impressions. A young man, inexperienced, from the simple 
limitation of age, if not by nature rather ingenuous, sat gambling 
in pure desceuvrement, and losing. It is never pleasant to lose, 
and though she understood that De Segovia came of a very good 
family in Cuba, he could hardly be rich, since he sang for a 
salary. In losing, he was losing opportunities of pleasure, if 
not the means of paying his common debts. However coolly he 
carried it ofiE, his heart must have desponded. Then, a soft 
froufrou, a perfume, a warmth, there stands at his shoulder a 
woman, charming vision, dressed — Camilla considered herself 
carefully from the outside, — in an afternoon costume of the 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 269 

most perfect taste, as well as rich and vastly becoming. There 
smiles upon him a face of beauty, satin lips murmur magical 
words that turn the tide of his fortunes. It is a princess come 
to his aid out of old legends, a lovely woman deigning to dis- 
tinguish his green youth. . . . 

Camilla, who knew men, perceived that Manuel, had he an 
ounce of blood or the shadow of imagination, must proceed to 
adore her. 

She slept late, having lain awake till dawn. When she finally 
rang, Stephanie brought the letters along with the coffee. The 
princess picked out the one she judged to come from De Se- 
govia. 

A charming letter, really. That boy was not stupid at all. 
Upon reflection, why should he have been stupid? Though he 
seemed very young, — men under thirty she at this period looked 
upon as mere boys, — he was actually old enough to have seen a 
good deal. He had studied singing in Paris, she understood, and 
been in the operatic profession two years or more, — no mean 
school. His letter showed one who knows his world and how 
to behave in it. 

She bade Stephanie bring in the flowers that had been sent ; 
the maid returned with a bunch of violets the size of her head, 
not the ordinary species, but deep, velvety Eussian violets^ more 
sumptuous in color and exquisite in fragrance than anything on 
earth, except other Russian violets. 

Camilla penned him a sweet little letter in thanks, such a let- 
ter as a kind, wise, remote princess would. She took pains. 

^* You tell me that the gold won yesterday seems to you too 
fine for ordinary uses, that the only destiny worthy of it is to 
be converted into fiowers for a princess. A pretty sentiment, 
which does honor to your poetic imagination. But the princess 
cannot think of herself as an altar worthy of perpetual gar- 
lands, and suggests that if you, cannot bring yourself to treat 
this money like any other, it should be made to fiower at least 
in acts that will leave a fragrance after the last violets have 
faded. The gold which Chance and a passer helped you to win. 



270 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

let Charity, fairest of the three spiritual Graces, guide you in 
spending. 

" Instead of more flowers, will you not let me have a promise 
from you which I desire and shall prize far more? 

^^ It is that you will shun the gaming-table^ which can only 
prove dangerous to you . . .*' 

Before evening she received the young man's reply. Her 
command was law. He would gamble no more, and he woidd 
do acts of charity. The receipts at his approaching benefit-per- 
formance should be turned over entire for her sake to the un- 
happy. As regarded the gold, he was of the same mind as be- 
fore. He could see nothing to do with it but buy flowers to 
send her. If she cruelly refused to accept them, the money 
should still suffer no dishonor, he would drop it into the sea. 

She saw his point. What, after all, could a flne caballero do 
with money acquired in that precise manner? Not pay his shoe- 
maker, or settle his hotel bill, it was clear. How, on the other 
hand, lay out thousands of francs on flowers for a woman to 
whom good taste forbade his sending so many at any time as to 
be conspicuous? The situation had a touch of comic. It 
dawned upon her that it had nothing comic to him, who at that 
stage of his dream must see himself sending her flowers, were she 
near or far, to the last day of a devoted life. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE great operatic event of the season had an importance for 
Princess Elaguine above the artistic joy of hearing a new 
masterpiece, and beyond the participation through sympathy in 
the triumph of friends. She made acquaintance on that even- 
ing with the Duchess of Monaco. 

At the frantic final applause, Irene, smiling and bowing be- 
fore the public, had been seen to totter and collapse in a limp 
and ghastly bundle. The Chief of the Pretorians had caught 
her waist, the Emperor had lifted her feet, and the wonderful 
Faustina, with arms hanging like a broken puppet's, had been 
carried off amid a growing hush. After a few minutes a man 
in evening-dress announced from the stage front that Madame 
Morpurgo was coming out of her faint. The applause was re- 
sumed louder than ever, mixed with calls for the composer. 

Camilla had hastened behind the scenes. Irene was coming 
to herself on a sofa in the green-room, whither she had been 
carried because her dressing-room had too many flowers. The 
Court physician, summoned from one of the boxes, was holding 
her wrist, and the duchess bending over her. A lady-in-wait^ 
ing stood aloof, with the duchess's sortie de hai over her arm. 
Bachert was guarding the door, but moved aside to let the 
princess pass. 

" It is nothing, n'esi^-c6-pflwf Camilla whispered to the lady- 
in-waiting. 

" Excitement and emotion, that is all." 

The face watched by everybody in the room smiled languidly. 

" Was I passable ? " Irene asked, without opening her eyes. 

The duchess kissed her tenderly on the forehead. " You were 

271 



272 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

— as nobody else in the world knows how to be! Keep very 
still, dear/* 

^^NOf no. I am all right. It was childish. ... It is yoii^ 
CamiUa?*' 

Camilla approached and impulsively dropped kneeling by the 
sofa, to caress her friend's hand without disturbing it. 

** Little unkind one, to make us all so anxious I " 

" What are they saying in the house? That it was a real suc- 
cess? What does Salvadori feel?*' 

"Eternal gratitude to you for so perfectly interpreting his 
thought to the world ! *' the duchess assured her. 

*^ Why does n*t he come and tell me ? *' 

" He is taking curtain calls,** answered Bachert. 

'' Meno male. . . . This is my old school-friend, the Princess 
Elaguine, duchess.** 

" Who worships in her the Muse, as well as cherishes the com- 
panion of infancy,** said Camilla. She stood up, and the 
duchess aflfably offered her hand. 

" Shall I tell your Highness how she was as a child ? How I 
remember her? She was the only little person of her kind, she 
showed originality, temperament, even then. But though I felt 
the presence in her of undeveloped genius, I was far from fore- 
seeing this moment. We who love music . . .** 

« Ah, yes! . . .** 

"We who . . . Transported, transported, I felt myself this 
evening. A great future, a great future is preparing for Signer 
Salvadori . . .** 

"Yes . . . Yes.** 

" That music of the introduction to the scene of the moonlit 
Palatine . . .** 

"Yes . . .** 

"And then, the mystery, the warning, in the air, in every- 
thing, before the assassination of Cestius . . .** 

X Co ... X 6S ... 

"And that tearing sob of the violins all together when she 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 273 

discovers that the man she has caused to be killed is^ by an 
ironical vengeance of destin/s, the man she loves . . /* 

X CD • • • 

" No wonder, my poor darling, that you fainted,*' the princess 
tactfully brought the subject back to the prima donna, " after 
living through all that passion and horror. The greater wonder 
is that the rest of us did not faint or scream in sjrmpathy when, 
in the midst of the quiet domestic scene with husband and chil- 
dren, at the last, you know, where you are trying to appear natu- 
ral, it is all suddenly too much and you scream . . . Have you 
ever heard that scream equaled, duchess? Everything was in 
it, everything in that scream ! . . . But here am I bringing up 
things that excite you, ma cherie, when what you need is to for- 
get it all for a time/' 

** It might be better, I think,'* said the duchess. 

^^I am going. I run away. Good-night, dearest Irene. 
Sleep well. Heaped up laurels must make a pleasant couch ... 
Madame, it has been a very great pleasure, a veiy great 
honor . . . No, no. Monsieur Bachert, I beg you will not 
trouble, I am attended . . ." 

Madame Laskaraky was waiting beyond the door, and, keep- 
ing her silent company, the Boman Cestius. Every one else 
had returned to looking vulgarly modem; chorus women, in 
hats and jackets, were passing toward the stage door, calling 
good-nights. He stood l^e an antique statue, of the period when 
they tinted them, decorating a great dim bam. Before consent- 
ing to figure so absurdly, he must have much disliked to take 
the chance of his princess leaving while he changed himself. 

At sight of him she gave a little cry of polite pleasure, 
'^Ah? . . .'' 

^' I fear the lights are out in front, Madame. I have taken 
the liberty of ordering your carriage sent round. May I not 
take you to it ? '* 

"How good of you ... I am glad of this opportunity. 
Monsieur de Segovia, to scold you a little . . ." She held up a 



274 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

finger. "Your flowers continue to come, though I have for- 
bidden them/* 

His hands came together in pleading; his whole person, while 
he searched for words, expostulated, explained ; his eyebrows de* 
precated and questioned. 

*^ It is not tiie prince,'* said she, *^ it is the waste ! But this 
is not the moment to scold, surely,** she melted and smiled her 
loveliest, ''when you have just covered yourself with glory. 
My sincerest congratulations. You outdid yourself. You will 
not be offended if I say that before to-night, though your sing- 
ing never failed to charm me, I found your action lacking in 
some necessary element. Yes, a little cold, stiff, absent. But 
this evening my opinion of it changed. For ardor, intensity, 
sincerity of passion, you were wonderful, wonderful.** She 
placed her finger-tips delicately in his hand. "Felicitations. 
Oood-night . . . And, no more flowers, tt'esUce-pasf** 

His classic tunic and buskins had no more than passed from 
sight, when her mind reverted to the duchess. She hoped she 
had made a good impression. She could hardly conceive hav- 
ing failed, used as she was to success, particularly when she gave 
to her rdle of charming woman that turn of spirited heartiness. 
Her breath stuck. . . . Prom the background of memory a 
sinister recollection had sprung into prominence. Had she not 
heard that in conversation with crowned heads the social in- 
ferior is limited, absolutely, to replies? What had she done? 
Of what fa/ux pas been guilty? . . . No, really, — she revolted 
against her mortification, — if the ruler over a kingdom whose 
unique distinction is supporting a gambling-house, and whose 
army is composed of eighty men, must be taken seriously as a 
crowned head, she ought to wear a label to that effect! 

Camilla was relieved, as at waking from a disagreeable dream, 
to hear from Irene next day, " You made a very pleasant im- 
pression on the duchess. She liked what she called your natural- 
ness. I intend to ask if I may bring you with me when we give 
that thing of Salvadori*s at the palace. I want you to hear it.** 

The first sketch of a design painted itself in Camilla's mind : 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA * 275 

to give a little drawing-room concert herself, comprising as 
audience only the duchess and attendant ladies. Irene and the 
other artists to sing more unpublished stuff of Salvadori's; Sal- 
vadori to be present. 

Violets, white, like the flag that sues for peace, were brought 
to her that day. The comer of an envelope peeped from 
among them. The enclosed card bore the legend, '' Pardonnez- 
moil *' 

Her feat at the Casino had made no proportionate stir, it 
seemed to Camilla. Few knew of it, and the limit to what they 
could say was soon reached. 

Irene was not very satisfactory. "How curious!** she re- 
marked. '' But then some number has to come out, why not 36 
as well as another ? *' 

Irene had the fault, her old friend was discovering, of half 
the time only half listening, and then not taking the pains to 
grasp what she heard. This absent-mindedness was thought not 
to sit amiss on the great singer, whom nobody could accuse of 
affectation. Camilla found it irritating. 

Bachert jestingly prayed that the princess would by some 
happy chance be near him at the tables some day, and give him 
the tip. 

Elaguine finally came home with one-half of the story. 
"Your friend of the peeled almond teeth,^' he said, "has had 
such luck at play as one never could have believed, knowing the 
proverb. Thirty thousand francs at one sitting! We must 
conclude que ce heau fat is not as successful in love as we 
fancied/' 

" Is that all you know of the affair? ** 

"How? . . :' 

" I see, they scrupled to tell you. Or perhaps they did not 
know. It was I.'* 

"You, what?** 

" The whole credit was to me. I was standing near. He was 
losing. I had a feeling, an inspiration. I suggested the most 



276 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

extrayagant play that could be thought of^ as if to brave fortune, 
who was treating him so ill. I said, ' Place here, place there,' 
and finally, * Place TnaximuTn on the highest number, square and 
full I ' KjhSl Fortune, a woman, liked our daring I . . • You do 
not believe me, I can see. Inquire a little.^' 

Clearly, the one person with whom it would be satisfactory to 
talk the matter over, was Manuel. She saw him often at a dis- 
tance, with Sarti, and suspected that they had posted themselves 
where they might see her pass. Manuel had on clothes so per- 
fect as to make him look dandified. Sarti's were less good. 
Both lifted efihilgent silk hats to her. 

The Elaguine party took their meals in a small private salon 
close to the general dining-room. In their transit from this 
sanctum to their apartment, they could be seen through the wide 
opening of the general dining-room door. Casually looking in, 
Camilla sometimes caught a glimpse of De Segovia and Sarti lin- 
gering over their coffee. 

Sometimes when she was walking along the Monaco cliffs 
with Irene, who had been prescribed exercise and was glad of 
company when she took her dose, the two men would meet them 
going the other way, and stop long enough to exchange the cur- 
rent banalities. The man who sent her flowers quivering with 
messages, pressed her hand with hardly more fervor than did 
the brother at arms and confidant. The respect he showed 
was really exemplary. 

The occasion which should have brought them to closer ac- 
quaiQtance, the hour upon which Camilla had counted to hear 
the occurrence at the Casino for once adequately commented 
upon, was marked by a most trying contretemps. When De 
Segovia, for once unaccompanied by Sarti, made the formal call 
owed to his hostess of not many nights before, the princess was 
not alone with the customary deaf Aunt. Madame de Can- 
romain, widow of the general, was calling also. This great 
lady (bom De Briel), being sent to the Eiviera for delicate 
lungs, had taken a villa at Monaco, and foreseeing long yearly 
sojourns in the mild climate, was arranging her life, tant hien 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 277 

que mal, with a view to not dying of tedium there. Learning 
the presence in Montecarlo of Princess Elaguine^ who during a 
siege of ilhiess in Paris had proved a valuable neighbor, she 
came with flattering alacrity to renew relations. 

De Segovia sat by the center-table^ his hand fumbling with a 
paper-weight. The talk was of Monaco society, and Camilla, 
with sedulous politeness, brought him into it, her Italian vivacity 
permitting no gaps, no flagging. 

'^He must be sorely disappointed,'' she said to herself. 
^^ Never mind, I will make it up to him another time." 

But matters took a crueller turn for the paiiio before the 
end of his call. 

Constantine came into the drawing-room, and the princess 
was toward him of an amiablityl . . . Her manner with the 
prince was always — if there were monde, — in the best possible 
taste, but this afternoon it was more than that. She was at- 
tentive, she was wifely. The top-heavy flower at his coat 
looking likely to tumble out of the buttonhole, she found a little 
pin on her person, and fastened it, with a pat to his lapel telling 
more plainly than words of a tender understanding. 

Manuel got up to leave. His nostrils were white, and he 
gave her hand a grip that lamed it with pain from the pressure 
of her gorgeous rings. She kept gallantly silent, inferring in a 
flash that he thought she had wished to torment him. But she 
was innocent. It was only that Madame de Canromain had a 
daughter-in-law of the modem style, a young woman depart- 
ing from all the former ideals of wifely duty, and the generate 
had privately deplored her courses to the kind neighbor coming 
to cheer her in sickness with echoes of the world. 

^^ When that man is jealous, one had best be careful,'' thought 
Camilla, unobtrusively nursing her bruised fingers. 

Triumphantly -she handed Constantine the journal in which 
finally the story of the notable 36 was related, and related rather 
gracefully, rather pleasingly. No names given. '^ One of our 
eminent artists ... A beautiful member of our ^lite . . ." 



278 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

The amount of the money won was greatly magnified^ the 
article unsigned. 

"You see that what I told you was true?*' asked Camilla 
when he had read. ** Furthermore, in this vase are some of the 
flowers he has been sending me every day in thanks. He could 
hardly do less, and he could do no more.-— I know what you 
are going to say. Why could I not have prompted you instead 
of him? My friend, will you tell me who, who, more than I, 
could wish we might have come by a large sum of money with 
that facility? Alas I . . . But when you by any chance have 
taken my suggestions you know what has invariably happened. 
Those things are mysterious.'' 

A desperate letter came from De Segovia. He waited but to 
discover the author of the outrage fitly to chastise him. Mean- 
while he implored her not to be too angry, not to blame him too 
much. He would have died rather than to have such a thing 
happen. 

Before she could write, the opportunity presented itself to 
reassure him orally. He was leaving Irene's as she was arriving, 
and they met on the stairway. He was so painfully upset that 
she became very kind. 

"But what is all this bad blood you are making? Of what 
consequence is it, finally, that a newspaper should have meddled 
with what concerns it not? Such is their vulgar, incorrigible 
custom, and we have always known it. But we are above their 
twaddle. I were indeed to be pitied if what they printed could 
disturb me. Comel You are to think of it no more. And 
you are above all things not to call out the author. Do you 
imagine I will allow the little poem that began with gold and 
flowers to end in blood? For yourself, if there is anything to 
forgive, I forgive it de tout ccsur. Put away out of your 
face all that misery and fierceness. Je suis tres bonne prin- 
cesse, and I will have nobody suffer, in mind or body, because of 

tnel" 

So gracious she looked in all her adorable beauty, so very 
much the kind princess, she smiled so encouragingly, that he 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 279 

pressed his lips to the back of her glove in passionate relief^ and 
the next instant^ after very nearly releasing the dear treasure^ 
catching it back again^ kissed it harder and longer, in ecstatic 
gratitude. 

There had often been a billet among the flowers coming from 
him, a compliment of the ordinary sort, that had no need to be 
hidden. One morning there was a musical phrase, without text. 
Camilla tried it on the piano, over and over, perseveringly. 
It conveyed to her nothhig. She had finally to take it to 
Irene. 

The prima donna, still in bed, held the paper before her, hum- 
ming thoughtfully, and in a moment fitted the notes wiith 
words: " lo sono ammaliato . . /' and went on to the end of 
the passage. 

"It is from Carmen. Don Jos6. First act. — Ah, I wish 
the part of Carmen did not rob me of my best notes. I could 
do it, I believe. So De Segovia sends you this? Why didn't 



ri) "* [! C ^ p * IJ . J ^ ^^ y^^ ^^^^^ ^*^® 



understood without help?^ 

" Perhaps he will, later. The apt musical quotations cannot 
be so many.'' 

" He is very much in love." Irene said it without appearing 
to give the subject much of her thought. 

Camilla, by her air and gesture, made little of the information. 
'' Una piccola cotta! '* She shrugged her Florentine shrug. 

" What are you going to do with him ? " 

" If you ask me, — exactly nothing, my dear. He is too pene- 
trated with awe and respect ever to make himself very trouble- 
some. And Constantine after all is there, who knows of the 
whole aflfair. He shall send me his flowers day by day, and 
in a few weeks I shall leave. It will come to a natural ending 
without any need for brutality on my part. I could never un- 
derstand, could you, that one should like to beat in the head of 



280 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

a person whose great offense is prizing one's charms? I will go. 
He will be left with an amiable memory^ and, which is more un- 
usual, will find himself in at the pocket instead of out I '^ 

"Yes/* Irene assented generally and vaguely. 

" He will soon form a new attachment He is obviously im- 
pressionable.*' 

** He has not that reputation.** 

" Never tell me that a man of that figure is not a mark for 
languishing glances ! ** 

"That is another thing. Certainly, he is run after, but I 
have never seen that it fiattered him. He has very liiiUe 
vanity, for one of our profession. One wonders why he chose 
it . . . Almost at any hour you will find him fencing or 
flftning with Sarti, rather than making himself agreeable to the 
ladies. Non, pour coureur, il ne Vest pas! There was a little 
friend in Paris to whom he remained faithful for several 



seasons.** 



"And then? How did it end?** 

"Who knows? We did not perceive that he moped after he 
came with us. We thought he was beginning to look rather 
closely at Juliette Beaucard^, and she at him. But nothing 
more is heard of that.** 

"Juliette Beaucard6? The one who takes the part of the 
slave in Faustina? Thin, in blue?** 

" Yes. No voice, but good training. No beauty, but knows 
how to be effective. She is a niece of old Lablache. You know, 
Lablache. That influence opens her way to a career, if she has 
the talent, which is still to be seen. . . , ^ lo sono ammaliatol' 
she burst forth with the tune which had been running in her 
head, "Ma se cedo, da te accecato . . .'* Her thoughts being 
taken back to Manuel, she broke off, ** Ovi, c'est un excellent 
gargon!" then talked of something else. 

TJn excellent gargon, a nice fellow. Camilla could but be 
reflecting, with a sort of wonder, while they talked of other 
things, at the little patronizing lift of Irene*8 eyebrows, the 
Teal indifference in her face, as in a tone of good-humored ad- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 281 

mission she gave that testimony. Just an excellent boy^ that 
pattern of virile comeliness around whose neck she clasped her 
arms in one character and another three or four times a week, 
to whom she clung so insatiably as Faustina^ kissing him with 
no foolishness of stage make-believe ! And she felt for him no 
more than tiiat! A very good thing, of course. But how 
curious. She preferred to him that little ten times ordinary 
Felix. 

And he, while with wreathed arms they sang passionate 
duets, his blood was not stirred by contact with the pulsating 
soprano, he belonged to a distant princess. But that seemed 
less strange. 

Camilla was accustomed to adoration, knew how to guide 
and control it. But men of ManueFs beautiful personal fresh- 
ness were scarce in her Parisian world. The last head she had 
turned, a witty head, had been unable to conceal a slight prema- 
ture baldness. Scarce too, in her world, the pursuit of love not 
for the stimulation primarily to be found in that fashionable 
amusement. 

The knowledge, when she sat in her opera box, that the man 
over yonder, on whose robust symmetry all eyes dwelt with 
pleasure as he sang, belonged to her so utterly that she could 
pawn him if she wished, had a pleasure in it beyond what had 
attended any of her latter-day conquests. Life-enhancing, was 
that sense of power over a piece of nature so select, so suc- 
cessful. She would make no use of her power, she knew enough 
not to play with fire. She was leaving before long. But life 
was definitely enhanced by the conviction that, with her forty- 
two years and all, she could still infatuate that excellent boy, 
make him blind, keep him besotted. She felt it, the intelH- 
gence radiated from him as does heat from fire, she could twist 
him around her finger like a skein of crimson floss. She liked 
him sincerely for giving her that feeling. 

Later on in her life, she understood that already at that time, 
while she still thought herself so sane, so detached, she had 
rated ManueFs attributes more highly than did others,— 



283 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

idealized him^ yes^ like any human woman^ her hour for folly 
having evidently struck. 

Though she had not the least idea of permitting the ad- 
venture to take a character that could become inconvenient, and 
though she had told Irene honestly that she meant to do ex- 
actly nothing, there was one thing she did. She took even 
greater pains than usual with her looks. The consciousness of 
appearing maddeningly beautiful in a new pair of eyes some- 
how renewed her from within, mysteriously refreshed and nour- 
ished her, caused a new authentic bloom, a new light, a new 
elasticity to be about her, — a new warm glory. 

She had in those days a great veil of dawn-rose tissue in 
which she wound her black head to go out at night. Her vivid 
face between gleaming ear-jewels shimmered distractingly 
through that tender mist. She had a great mantle of sumptuous 
black velvet in which to fold herself going to the opera. 
When she opened this to throw it off, it was like a parting of the 
clouds, she stepped forth from the silver-white lining like 
a dazzling moon. Of scenic clothes Camilla had ever been 
fond. White broadcloth with a line of dark fur was her favor- 
ite wear for the carriage; it looked the Russian princess, she 
thought. Her fashion of great black hats she had long dis- 
carded, but could be exactly as conspicuous in a little toque 
wholly composed of rose buds, or a capote consisting of a pearly 
pair of wings held together by a loop or two of velvet and a 
strass ornament. 

Elaguine, noticing a soft general pleasantness about Camilla's 
mood in these days, without much mental straining after the 
reason for it, laid it to the right cause, and built on it a con- 
fident hope. He was destined to see this dashed. 

Before coming to Montecarlo they had settled between them 
how much money he should lose there. Though he had been 
more fortunate than usual, winning enough to keep on with 
the indulgence of his vice beyond the customary length of their 
visit, he had now exhausted the allowance. But Camilla's 
noticeable good humor, coupled with her natural desire presum- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 283 

ably to stay on in a place where she found entertainment, created 
the expectation that she would be more amenable to his request 
than she was apt to be when it was money he wished. He was 
mistaken. She was firm as ever, firm as could be. 

^*In that case what should I be doing in Montecarlo ? '* he 
asked. 

" I am not prepared to leave. I came for your pleasure, I 
remain for my own. The duchess is inviting me to a musical 
affair at the palace^ very private^ a decided honor. Madame 
de Canromain is here, and her set is becoming mine. Her 
son and his wife are arriving, too; there will be receptions, 
balls. Also, I am committed to giving a musicale at which I 
expect the duchess herself. At this it is particularly necessary 
you should be present.*' 

**You will not expect me to remain where I am made 
ridiculous.** 

^^ I cannot see that a man is ridiculous because after weeks 
of infamous luck at gambling he ceases to play.** 

^^He is ridiculous^ I say, when Madame*s apartment is 
pestiferous day after day with flowers sent by the hero of a 
newspaper sensation to tiie heroine thereof.** 

"Not the most umbrageous husband in the world could be 
oifiLsque by a tribute such as thatl You will find it difficult, 
Constantine, really, to make me believe that you are jealous. 
Such homage redounds, if anjrthing, to the husband's credit, 
when the wife, as I do, holds a conduct above reproach. If you 
care to know, I stopped his flowers some time ago, but hav- 
ing formed the taste have continued them at my expense. 
The flowers you behold are my own offering to myself. I can 
see you do not believe me. Inquire of the florist. Inquire.** 

"To be in Montecarlo and not play is absurd. And to sit 
twirling my thumbs while my wife is open object of the attentions 
^un gro8 tenor is absurd. I will not remain.** 

"You will not remain. You will not remain. You are 
thinking perhaps that I shall bribe you to stay . . . No, I 
will not do it. I will not, even at this time, when you must 



284 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

know that it would be better for me you should stand ait my 
side. Your presence is a protection, a support. Nobody so 
much as I prizes seemliness, decorum in the life^ or feels how 
much a woman needs as her proper setting a background of 
husband and household gods. But . . . However . . . All the 
same ... I quite agree with you that the moment has arrived 
when, as more than once before, each of us would find an 
absence of a few weeks from the other a pleasant change. Qo, 
if you choose. I will not keep you. I shall have with me 
the Laskaraky . . /^ 

" Or Zassoulitch . . /' 

^^ I said Laskaraky ! " As she raised her voice to emphasize 
the name, her short flat-iron foot in the highly varnished shoe 
came down sharply on the parquetry. But she kept her temper^ 
though her eye glittered wamingly. *^ I shall have the intimacy 
with the De Canromains to give me countenance, not to men- 
tion the friendship with the duchess. And even without such 
valuable endorsements as those — ^^ She drew herself up in 
her chair to look slenderer, longer of neck; she held her head 
at a proud angle, ^^ Experience has taught me, my dear Constan- 
tino, I need not fear but that without certificates of any kind, 
from my port and look alone, I shall be classed in the right 
category.** 

"The first time I saw you,*' said the prince, "I supposed 
you were the lady's maid.** 

" And me, I took you for a thief I ** came back at him from 
the princess, quick as shot. " I would not allow myself to go 
to deep, for fear you would get at the traveling-bags and 
steal the silver stoppers off the bottles! 



» 



CHAPTEB V 

WHEN after half-a-dozen performances Fanstina was estab- 
lished as a success^ and when the concert at the palace, 
rewarded by distinguished marks of ducal graciousness^ was 
numbered among proud memories, a generous desire seized man- 
ager Bachert to celebrate. He proposed une partie de plaisir, 
an excursion and lunch in the open air, to be shared by those 
members of the company to whom he owed greatest thanks 
for their able support. 

** If we invited the princess also ?...'' he voiced his ambition 
to Irene. 

The princess gave to her acceptance the laughing tone of 
consent to an escapade, a mad day of truantry. 

Elaguine was away. Aunt Masha had been much in attend- 
ance since his departure. Camilla, who spoke to her in public 
only as often as manners demanded, had many a sociable half- 
hour with her when, the doors being closed, she was willing to 
put that biting saw-edge on to her voice which made it 
audible without being too loud. When she told her of the 
projected excursion, "You won't want me!'* Hortense spoke 
promptly. "There is no occasion to drag me along. Let 
me have the little holiday on my side! At pique-mques of 
the sort one is expected to look cheerful while sitting on a cold 
stone.'* 

As women often do, "I don't know why I accepted!" Ca- 
milla said to herself when, upon further thought, her con- 
descension took the aspect of a mistake. 

But coming home at end of day from the scampagnata, she 
saw it all in rose-color, and the question whether she had been 

285 



886 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

wise lost its first-class importance behind the answer that she 
had been happy. 

The February day was so fair as to make the little company 
starting on their pleasure feel themselves in favor with the 
skies. Chrysoprase and amethyst spread the sea near land, 
misty pearl at the far-off verge of the world. A first sugges- 
tion of spring was in the odors of earth and air. The objective 
point was a small and picturesque hill town^ at the end of a 
not inconveniently long drive. 

The two landaus disgorged their loads on a sunny slope below 
the ramparts. Through bare chestnut-trees the eye could follow 
the green-gray hill down to the valley where the stony bed of a 
river, seven.times too wide for its ribbon of water, was spanned 
by a many-arched bridge. A flock of children, with an older 
sister or two, and a gray donkey, watched the movements of 
the strangers from a just less than respectful and safe distance. 

Irene's neck and ears were lost in a collar of black bear, 
which she wore in compliment to the season rather than from 
need. Camilla's face rose like a smooth camellia-bud from a 
calyx of Bussian sable. She had at this period a trifle more 
color than formerly, a diffused, delicate rosiness. Her hair was 
crowned daintily with the ruby and emerald of doves' breasts. 

Irene, Bachert, and De Segovia, had the effect of protecting, 
fencing her off, just a little, from the rest. Even against the 
good Sarti to-day discrimination was made. But when all 
were gathered around the spread cloth, held to the ground, in 
defiance of errant breezes, by viands as solid as they were in- 
viting; when the cold pie' Jd the Mayence ham were passing 
from hand to hand, the wine sparkling and flowing, she found 
her interest overleaping the sacred barrier. Besides Sarti and 
the Zepperelli, there were present Zemuti, the basso, the little 
Agnellotti, still at her first season, and Madame Elvira, once 
chorus-singer, now mistress of the wardrobe. This unpreten- 
tious character had been made one of the partjr in recognition 
of exceptional services on the recent great occasion. She would 
also make herself useful to-day with the baskets and dishes. 



THE TEXJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 287 

All felt for the ugly old woman affectionate regard. 

The Agnellotti, divinely young, and stupid as a little lamb, 
was a prot6g6e of Lrene's, who had discovered a rich voice in 
the daughter of her laundress at home. The Agnellotti's mouth 
was always open, with a look of innocent forgetfulness. This 
rosy portal invited the glance into a rosy cave f idl of remarkably 
pure ivories washed with pearl. 

Of whom was it that Zemuti so tantalizingly reminded her? 
wondered Camilla. When he raised his glass to propose the 
health of Juliette Beaucard6, "We will be able at least to 
tell her that we drank to her health,*' his forked iron-gray 
beard, and the pinch of his coat at the waist, brought up before 
her Maestro Graziani. At once followed the xmfair suspicion 
that little Agnellotti must be warier than she looked, if she 
was to keep this bumble-bee from that open rose half dis- 
closing its pearls . . . Camilla brushed away the impertinent 
memory, and asked why Mademoiselle Beaucard^ had not come. 
She had waked up with a headache, they told her. 

The whole company was gradually drawn into a loud and 
lusty discussion which left out the noble guest. Arrows of 
attack and satire hurtled against one solitary shield of defense. 
It regarded the other group of singers, those who were put on, 
oflf nights, when Morpurgo and De Segovia rested their vocal 
chords. Massimi, with the chronic hard-boiled egg in his mouth, 
— Sarti gave an example of his voice-production ; the Valvas- 
sura-Carr6, once so celebrated, now worse than passee, her trill 
was a wobble, her tones were all breath and no sound, — which 
would be no subject for mockery except for her pretensions, her 
condescension in speaking of Patti, her refusal so much as to 
speak of Morpurgo. Oh, to see her as Martha, with her perky 
little shepherdess hat ! Or as Daughter of the Begiment, beat- 
ing her little drum ! Sarti jumped up to mimic her. Bachert 
expostulated, unrufiQed. All he claimed was that her name 
still had power with the public. What was he but an im- 
presario, a practical business man? 

Camilla was charmed. The conversational laisser-aller re- 



288 THE TBXJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

freshed her. No disputing it; she enjoyed herself among these 
people^ and their flattering deference sustained her in the opinion 
that no prejudice was to her dignity from mixing with them 
as she did. The atmosphere of their brilliant carelessness 
exhilarated her^ like great breaths of fresh air after long being 
shut in. "This is life I** she felt. In sober subsequent re- 
flections she wondered how she coidd have found attractive 
what she intrinsically did not like. Having little bent for 
introspection^ " It was my destiny ! ^' she explained the paradox. 
Felix and Irene, when they invited the princess, had not 
been sorry to think they were incidentally doing De Segovia a 
good turn. And Camilla had not been uninfluenced by curiosity 
as to what use he woidd make of the protracted opportxmity. 
But De Segovia was on his guard. De Segovia, when he 
learned that for a whole day he was to have his divinity be- 
side him, had sworn that nothing shoidd induce him to endanger 
his joy by any dimisiness that could draw upon him a frown. 
For a whole day to live in the warmth of her smile! He 
would drink this cup, tasting the sweet of every drop, and 
forgetting the thirst that would form again afterwards. All 
this reached the sixth sense of a subtle observer through his 
simmering quiet, his assumed stolidity, as an odor will get 
past steel armor. 



'^ Et mon secret m'est cher, et cMre ma souff ranee, 
Et fai fait vcbu de vvore sans esperance, 
Mais non pas sans bonhevr, je vous vols, c'est assez . . .'' 

one of his bouquets had lately informed his lady. She had 
wondered where he had got the lines, and supposed he had seen 
them set to music. He was living up to the declaration. So 
careful was he to keep out of his face a bliss which might 
make him look fatuous, that he looked more serious than any 
of the others. 

At the end of the repast, finally, warmed through by the sun 
and the wine and Her presence, he tmbent. When his Spanish 
reserve jrielded, it was surprising how boyish he could be. 



THE TKUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 289 

Asked for a song^ he gave a foolish thing of the Paris streets 
with much Zimlala, Zimlala. After the others had earned ap- 
plause by various parlor tricks and music-hall tums^ he growled 
like a dog over his bone when^ search being made for Camilla^s 
missing glove^ it was foxmd in his possession. 

The company dividing up to scatter, a tacit conspiracy took 
effect to leave princess and tenor for each other. The empty 
dishes had been returned to the baskets, the cloth shaken, the 
fragments distributed among the children. Camilla expressing 
a wish to visit the church, which boasted its carved font and 
its old master, Irene declared herself too lazy, and unceremoni- 
oiwly offered De Segovia as cavalier. The pair went off rather 
stifiQy, perfunctorily they saw the monuments; their conversa- 
tion, of which Camilla bore the burden, might have been the 
exchange between nigh strangers; only, silences were allowed 
to fall, such as Camilla would never have suffered with a 
mere acquaintance. All the bouquets he had sent her were 
fragrant in their consciousness, the messages wherewith his 
flowers had been charged made the air heavy as if with scent. 

When they returned to the scene of the picnic, where they 
had thought to find Irene, she was gone. Camilla sat down 
to wait. De Segovia, having arranged a plaid and pillow for 
her against an old chestnut-tree, took his place at her feet, and 
lighted a cigarette. The children had vanished. The little 
donkey was pensively grazing. No person was any nearer, as 
far as one could see, than, down in the river-bed, a few washer- 
women grouped along the margin of the running water. 

And then, when the setting was pointedly perfect for a 
declaration, when the hour seemed calling for it and for noth- 
ing else, Manuel began to talk to Princess Elaguine • . . about 
his sister. 

Not but that his heart was full of declaration, his eyes too. 
Not that he thought it woidd be amiss to lay before her, with 
a suitable confession of unworthiness, the tribute of his ardent 
and hopeless passion. But his emotion itself robbed him of 
internal calm and deamess^ and terror lest some infelicity of 



290 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

expression^ some floundering among words^ shoidd make him 
ridiciQous^ determined him to avoid risk. He was afraid of 
this lovely being who had power to mortify him so insufferably 
by a word of mockery. 

His sister seemed a safe subject But it was not that con- 
sideration wholly which moved him. A sincere outgoing of 
heart toward his audience was implied in his choice of a subject 

This, Camilla could not at first appreciate. Her eyes had 
a little look of inquiry. Was he really 27, or had he made 
himself older than he was, for reasons? He was talking to 
her about his sister! She could easily have laughed, but in- 
stinct kept her from doing what woidd so incurably have 
woimded the young lover, whose naivete after all hardly made 
him hateful. 

'^You make me think, Madame, of my sister Mercedes,'^ he 
began. 

"I look like her?'* 

*'0h, no. She is a little woman, very dark, with eyes 
black as black coffee, — older than you, and I do not think that 
one could call her beautiful.** 

"You fiatter me . . . But then why . . .?** 

"Ja ne saurais votts dire . . . But being with you to-day 
brings her to my mind with unusual reality. She has been 
an extraordinary sister to me. She is the oldest of the family, 
and married while I was still a child. I have always been her 
favorite. When I was to have been forced into my father's 
business, she saved me from it. She has made a very good 
marriage, and has very great power with her husband. She 
sent me instead to Paris to develop my voice.** 

*' You had early already a passion for music?** 

** Not at all. I like music well enough, but I care little to 
make it. Since it has become my profession, I find myself 
growing more and more indifferent to it. It is better than a 
counting-house, though. Few things that left one a little liberty 
but would be better than a coimting-house. Commerce! . . .** 
He made a sound and face of comical loathing. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 291 

'* And music is not hard and binding work ? *^ 
" It takes some of one's time, and the more modem mnsic is 
not always easy, bnt it is not work, as I account it. I have 
by nature a passable organ and a certain facility/' 
"So you owe your sister Mercedes a great debt?*' 
*^ Everything I owe to her, everything. Not only she stood 
on my side in the family councils, and prevailed where my 
little mother, who loves me too, could do nothing against my 
father's obstinacy, — but she has always been so affectionate, 
so tender toward me. She adores her brother, Madame. 
* Manuelito, you are better than all the world to me ! ' she used 
to say. So that in any good hour, any moment when I am 
really happy, I find her coming to my mind, the one who in 
all the world cares alone, or, at least, cares most, that I should 
be happy." 

" Ah, how well I tmderstand your feeling . . /' 
"Be sure I never speak of her except to persons whom I 
deeply respect and love." 

"Yes, yes, I imderstand. I appreciate the delicacy of 
that. . . . Tell me a little more of this Mercedes, whom you 
are teaching me to love. I pray you, let us go on talking 
about her. What is her husband ? Has she no children ? " 

There was something in the day, Camilla concluded, the 
relaxation following the generous repast, the pleasant languor 
bred by long hours of open air, inducing a gentle expansion of 
heart, by which the names of loved ones far away were lifted 
to the lips. For Irene, when she returned and was accommodated 
on the plaid beside Camilla, — Manuel strolling off with Felix, 
— began to talk of a person to whom Camilla had never heard 
her allude, whether from absence of mind or too deep feeling. 
A little daughter, far away in a convent school, a little girl 
toward whom she often yearned, to-day in particular, she knew 
not why. This passionate child adored her jealously, tyran- 
nically. She related pathetic anecdotes. 

" But what then will be the attitude of this little hurricane 



292 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

and volcano toward Felix, when you marry ? '^ Camilla showed 
her sympathetic interest by pursuing the subject after the 
other had come to a pause. 

Irene looked at her a moment before answering. ''Felix 
has a wife in Hamburgh and a family of grown up children," 
she said. *' Did n't you know it ? ** 

So little as happened on that day, so little as was said, it 
made a difference in the relation with Manuel. The increase 
of familiarity in a measure cast out fear. Upon this better 
acquaintance, it became natural that he should approach the 
princess whenever occasion offered, natural to drop into her 
box on his free evenings. Step by step more things became 
possible, until it was possible one night to make before her 
what in the vocabulary of both was defined as a scene. 

As returning home late she entered her drawing-room, Ca- 
milla's quick senses informed her that the glass door to the 
garden was not duly shut and fastened. With reproof fore- 
most in her mind for Stephanie, she was going to remedy the 
woman's carelessness, when the door opened further . . • 
Manuel said in a hurried whisper, ''Be not afraid!'' and 
came in. 

She could hardly be afraid of Manuel, even under such cir- 
cumstances, serenely certain of her capacity to manage him. 
Almost her first thought was half of amusement. " So he has 
won over Hortense. It must have been done by letter." 

She stared at him with appropriate amazement. 

He might not after all be so easy to control to-night. She 
could see by the light of the solitary lamp, turned low to wait 
for her, that he looked unreasonable, intractable, nervous; his 
eyes were at once blurred and too bright. Tact would have to 
be used. She could furnish all that was requisite. 

"What is this?" she asked, not unkindly, and screwed up 
the lamp. 

"The door was a little open," he faltered; then gathering 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 293 

yiolence like a torrent after passing an obstruction, *^ I had to 
see yon I You were not at the theater — Why? You had 
promised to be there. I sang like a beasf 

" Before I give an explanation which you can hardly think is 
your due, have you no thought for me whatever, that you do 
this compromising thing? Make your misconduct as little 
serious as you can, I beg, by going at once. Manuel, what 
is this folly? — The porter saw me come in, let yourself im- 
mediately be seen going out.*' 

" There is nothing to fear.** He made a contemptuous face. 
'^You offend me by supposing I could be careless in a matter 
that involved you. Nobody saw me come, and nobody will 
see me go.'* 

**How can that be?** 

"I pray you, set your heart at ease. You show too little 
respect really for my intelligence. Your reputation is in no 
danger. If I had not naturally every desire to be careful of it, 
your own perpetual concern for your reputation would keep 
me from forgetting.** 

Camilla hesitated. Could he be trusted ? . . . No. No man 
could be trusted, when his head was no cooler than that. But 
Hortense, she, would she have made this interview possible 
without satisfying herself that it was safe ? . . . No. She gave 
a thought to Stephanie, in the next room. No. Stephanie had 
permission to sleep while waiting up for her mistress, and 
Stephanie was a hard sleeper. Besides, Camilla believed in 
St6phanie*8 attachment. 

"I thought you would never come!** Manuel sighed from 
under the weight of a mountain, and covered his face, to try 
to compose himself behind that screen. 

"Am I so late?** she asked lightly. "No! I can see by 
the little clock. I am not so very late ! ** 

"It does not seem late to you, naturally! Why should it 
seem late? What do you know of the length of time? What 
is it to you that you said I should see you at the theater, and 



294 THE TRXJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

then your box was the whole evening empty, and I was left 
to wait until Gk)d knows what time to-morrow. Twelve mortal 
hours at the very least!" 

She smiled with more pride than pity for the torment setting 
him beside himself, driving him to rage at her whom he had 
not the smallest right to reproach. 

" Oh, but what an unreasonable humor we are in to-night ! " 
she said soothingly. '^ Come, unrufSe that forehead ! I am a 
little late, and I was a little cruel, so I will be a little kind. 
Sit down, you can stay for five minutes, — exactly five, while 
I tell you how it happened.** 

He dropped on his knees close before the puffy armchair 
into which she allowed herself to sink back, breathing bxmdle 
of soft textures and perfimie and beauty. 

** Madame de Canromain asked me at short notice. She was 
going out this evening with her son and his wife, but felt in- 
disposed, so insisted they should go without her, and sent for 
me to come and bear her company, as one can do with an 
intimate. My evening was spent in the good work of cheering 
her. I had forgotten, when I said I should be at the theater, 
that I was pledged to the generate'' 

" You forgot ! *' 

"Is that a crime?** 

"The worst, when the penalty is all to be paid by another, 
and you suffer nothing. . . . Ai, Diane, I have had such an 
evening ! ** 

"There. Forget it. It is because I imderstand, after all, 
that I am not scolding you.** 

" All those hours, each composed of sixty eternal minutes ! ** 

"Forget. Forget. Am I not here now? Have you not a 
reward where you deserve a punishment?** 

"It hurts almost as much. All that comes from you hurts. 
If you are cruel, it hurts. If you are kind, it hurts, too.** 

"No, no. When I place my hand like that upon a fore- 
head, all the hurt goes, the bad unhappy thoughts cease. Is 
that not so ? ** 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 296 

He closed his eyes^ to feel the balm of her touch more in- 
tensely, and murmured, "Yesl . . • Nol Leave it there, 
leave it ! '' 

" Wherefore any longer? The charm has worked.*' She was 
honestly doing what she could to make herself calming, whole- 
some for burning, impatient nerves. ^^I must scold a little 
afler all, I think, — scold you for your sister Mercedes. Your 
voice is all husky, I perceive it pldnly, even though you speak 
low. You have taken cold. You have been standing on the 
stone in the night air, for how long? . With nothing to pro- 
tect your throat. And you are a singer, with responsibilities 
toward your manager and the public.** 

Manuel chose not to appear to know that she was merely 
pretending to be imaware that tears of rage and jealousy and 
desire before she came, and not the night-dews, had roughened 
his throat. It was quite like her to preach reason to him. 
She had done it before. 

"My voice,'* he said testily, "is my servant. Never will 
I be the servant of my voice. Nor shall manager or public be 
my masters. I make use of them while it is convenient. They 
shall take from me only so much of my liberty as I am willing 
to concede.** 

"Ah, there are two fond women in far Havana who have 
much to answer for in spoiling the great child that you are . . . 
The world wiU teach you, my poor friend, that one must con- 
form.** 

"Never. I will never conform.*' 

" Then you will scarcely have a long life.** 

"Do I wish for long life? Do you think I wish for long 
life? Look at the people who live to grow old! Calculating, 
avaricious, cowardly, cold-blooded, and ugly, — disgusting! All 
I care about, and all I wish to care about, is love. And not 
love as the old understand it.** 

"Ah, there spoke again the spoiled child, who insists that 
the whole dinner shall be dessert. Is not love a sort of sweet- 
dish? There should be something solid as well, something 



296 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

serious. Labor in some sphere or other, battle, achievement, 
the winning of honors and prizes/' 

"How you talk! Till I could think you had not the 
smallest idea what love is! Will you tell me what you dream 
of, you, when you stand on a warm night in a garden of roses, 
and look at moonlight over the sea?'* 

*' Ah, let be my dreams ! ** sighed Camilla with, suddenly, her 
most interesting air of sadness. She lifted and dropped an arm, 
in a little dramatic gesture of weariness, "Let be my dreams, 
tell me yours ! '* 

A woman of sense does not allow herself to love when it 
would be inconvenient, any more than she allows squeamish- 
ness to conquer when it wars with larger interests. Camilla 
had herself well in hand. But she took undeniable pleasure 
in the proximity of the spoiled child on his knees to her, and 
since it seemed to-night that she could be imprudent without 
too much danger, she indulged a simple desire to keep him 
there, and be amused by hearing him tell his heart. Some- 
thing infinitely likeable was shed, like so much physical warmth, 
from this wrong-headed idol of sister Mercedes and poor little 
mother and friend Sarti, to which Camilla owned herself not 
impervious either. 

Upon an invitation which would have excused any burning 
avowal, Manuel unexpectedly paused, then began haltingly, 
"There was once a man . . .'* 

A scene among bare chestnut-trees flashed across Camilla's 
memory. "Is ii a story you are going to tell me?" she in- 
terrupted. 

"A story, yes, which embodies my dream ... He loved a 
young girl and they were affianced. But afterwards their 
families divided them. They forbade him to see her, and 
married her to another." 

" I beg your pardon. Is it a true story for which my interest 
is claimed?" 

" If it is not true in one sense, it is in another, as you will 
see. When he found himself robbed of her, reckless and des- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 297 

perate^ at war with the whole worlds he joined a band of robbers 
and became their chief. They called him Mezzanotte/^ 

" Ah, Mezzanotte. C'est reussi/' 

^^ One day there passes through the forest his former bride 
with her husband and their retinue. He falls on them with 
his rough band^ kills and scatters them^ and with the woman 
of his heart fainting in his arms scales the rocks to his moimtain 
stronghold. And there they have three days together before 
the remnant of the defeated party can gather forces to come and 
overwhelm them. Three perfect days, three mad days of love. 
When the pursuers have closed around, and there is nothing 
but to surrender or die, the enemies see the couple appear on a 
high peak . . . The next moment they plunge clasped together 
into the torrent at the foot of it.*' 

*' But Manuel, is it a libretto which you have written? '' 

" No, it is an opera by a friend of mine,'* he answered, a little 
lamely. ^^ He could not get it produced. . . . But you asked me 
for my dream. There it is, — a few days of perfect joy, three 
mad days of love, and then the end of the world. Three days? 
. . . Less than that. One ! Or not even so much as a day . . . 
One hour of ecstasy, I would give all the rest for it. What 
does one want to live on for afterwards, and see practical things 
ruin aU? Short and sweet is better. Life, if we would let it, 
would make us all into critical, cautious, despicable slaves. 
Life would never grant us anything, if it could help it. We 
have to tear what we want out of its hands by violence^ and 
then defy its vengeance I " 

^^ But this is madness, dangerous madness ! — And they are 
such subversive dreams as that, which live beneath those well- 
ordered bronze curls ? '* 

He ran his fingers through them, without knowing what he 
did, and startled them on end. " Ah, Diane, you mock ! And 
you call it madness. You do not tmderstand, because you love 
nobody. You do well not to tell your dreams, you. Thank 
God I have never had but one, — the love of a beautiful woman. 
I am proud that with my first cigarette it was that dream 



298 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

already which floated before me in the smoke. Even then 
it was always a princess. . . . And now it seems I am to die 
desiring what is denied me. Ah^ Diane, is it so impossible? 
... I know I am not worthy of a look from you. But what 
is it after all that one seeks in love — but love? The essence' 
of a heart pressed into a cup for the other to drink? And I, 
you know . . . my heart . . .'* Holding his hands together to 
form a cup, he tendered it with a beseeching, persuasive hu- 
mility. It seemed to her the hands trembled. 

She sat up resolutely, the accustomed brilliancy of her smile 
a little exaggerated. "Enough! Decidedly. Enough for to- 
night! You are coming very near the line which you have 
promised not to cross. And you have alarmed me a little, I con- 
fess, with your extraordinary philosophy of life, the solution 
of all problems by lawless violence. If I am to fear you may 
seize me some fine morning and carry me to your mountain 
lair, and put me to death after three days, I think, Monsieur 
Mezzanotte, it were perhaps well I lost no time in rejoining my 
husband/' 

"When you threaten me with that, Diane, I see red . . . 
Be so good as to be careful! . . . No, you love me too little, 
verily, to be in any danger of abduction.*' 

*' A la bonne heurel ** 

"And then you know that you can always finally do what 
you please with me. I am a rag in your hands. But what 
the end will be I cannot think. I do not wish to think. I 
live from day to day because it is always possible I may see 
you to-morrow.'* 

"And when you see me I am glad to say that you mostly 
conduct yourself, — remark that I said mostly, — like a reason- 
able gentleman, who is not going to afflict his friend by beat- 
ing out his brains against a wall of circumstance which cannot, 
alas, be shaken." 

"Yes. I will tell you. I conduct myself as you describe, 
because so oftf n when I see you, Diane, after hours of misery, 
hope revives. You have teased me, infuriated, dazzled and 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 299 

denied me, but there is something kind, in spite of all, in your 
face. That line of your shoulder and breast is so kind ! When 
you touched me a moment ago, I felt something go down to 
the depths of my being, something of you, comforting and kind/' 

"My poor friend, if it will make you to go quietly home 
now, — it is time, — and sleep in peace, I will agree that I am 
kind, profoundly and stupidly kind. They are the laws of 
society, the necessities of existence, which are not kind. Have 
I not suffered from them enough to know? But they revenge 
themselves too terribly if one for a moment forgets that they 
are absolute monarchs of our world ... I am very tired, sud- 
denly. I pray you, go." 

"Your hand, and I obey. You will go out with Madame 
Morpurgo at the usual time ? ** 

" Perhaps.'' 

" You leave the carriage at the usual place, and walk as far 
as the palace?" 

" It is not certain. 

"I will be there. Promise that when my flowers come to- 
morrow you will press your face among them and breathe 
deep . . . Yes, I am going. There, and there. It is a beautiful 
kind hand . . . And there I Good-night. You see that you can 
rely on me to be reasonable, when you are not too unreasonable 
yourself . . . Ah, Diane, I go away happy. To see you has 
done me so much good ! " 



CHAPTER VI 

REASON told Camilla plainly enough that the safe thing 
was departure. She could never blame reason for not 
warning her. 

When in the exasperation of his passion Manuel had become 
such that she could no more coimt on his self-command or 
her command over him, and when she was forced to recognize a 
weak and wicked inclination in herself^ irresistible, to madden 
him always more, she knew it was but a question of time^ she 
would be compromised. 

Unfortunately, a sort of demoralization had relaxed the 
sinews of her will. A mischievous glamour kept her from see- 
ing things with her usual clearness. She said indeed that it 
behooved her to take herself out of danger^ but she allowed 
the days to pass^ in a soft^ uncharacteristic uncertainty as to 
what steps actually she should take. She continued to find 
nothing pleasanter or better worth while than beautifying her- 
self to shine forth for the further distraction of Manuel^ — 
fair high-himg star of the evening, enamoring a shepherd. 

Stilly the hour did come when she was made sufficiently uneasy 
to determine upon flight. No simple matter would it be to 
get away without incurring the very thing which this removal 
was intended to avoid. If Manuel lost his head. ... It was 
a case for strategy. A troublesome business altogether, it 
promised to be. But she made up her mind. The hour had 
come. 

She had it all thought out, even the date fixed, when there 
arrived for her, carried by a splendid liveried being, a great 

300 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 301 

crested envelope. An invitation from the duchess to a ball. 
For the first time in her life a Court ball ... 

It would delay her by two whole weeks, which two weeks 
would afford time to send to the source of taste and foundry of 
fashion for a ball-dress. 

A grand elation lifted Camilla above the momentary per- 
plexities of her life. A Court ball ! A Court ball ! 

The picture floating before her imagination lost not a bit of its 
luster in the interval during which she had leisure to become 
accustomed to the excitement of it. To be quite at her best» 
cbe resolved to stay in all the day preceding the ball, refuse 
herself to everybody, and rest. 

For she was tired, having been living under strain. In- 
ward conflict between hatred to give pain, and the inexorable 
necessity to give it, is wearing ; not less so is the struggle of choice 
between what one's blood wants and what one's brain demands. 

She would rest. Even Aunt Masha was bidden not to show 
her face. She thought first that she would lie in bed, but 
she could never sleep in the daytime, and after a while was 
driven by nervousness to get up. To save herself every labor, 
and thereby be fresher for the night, she did not dress. Waiv- 
ing Stephanie's aid, she carelessly pinned up her hair, slipped 
her feet into worn and easy slippers, and her arms into the 
sleeves of an old rose-colored neglig^, which a wise economy 
kept her from passing on to the maid after an accident with 
a coffee-cup had left indelible record down the front. At her 
hours, the princess really liked old shoes and old clothes and 
to have her hair and all the rest a bit imtidy. 

She took up the newspapers, to while away time, but they 
bored her to-day; she tried a book, but soon tired of it. She 
finally got out some old lace to mend. She was so much better 
at such things than Stephanie that she often did them herself 
and saved the expense of a professional mender. As she sat 
thus employed, without the point of carmine that would enliven 
her lips when later she dressed for the ball, or the vague dis- 
guise of rice-powder, though she was a beautiful woman, it 



808 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

was as a cut rose is beautiful on the fourth or fifth day: its 
form, its color, are still satisfactory to the eye, but the texture 
is all drier, harder. 

Her thoughts as she worked were troubled, but every little 
while, like a shaft of sunshine across wind-ruffled waters, there 
would steal through her worries the remembrance of the ap- 
proaching ball, and she would smile, if not visibly yet in the 
truest sense. 

The joy of the invitation was a little heightened by the fact 
that Irene had received none. It was not her work which in- 
terfered^ that could have been arranged. No, the duchess, in 
spite of her fondness for Irene, could not strain a point as 
much as it would need straining to admit the singer as a 
guest on a great evening given to honor the visit of a foreign 
minister and his lady. One must draw the line somewhere. 

The friends continued to see a good deal of each other, but 
Camilla somehow knew that Irene not only had no very great 
opinion of her intelligence, but that she did not at bottom like 
her very much. Forms were kept up between them, as if old * 
school-mates must necessarily remain through life on a footing of 
intimacy, but Irene was not a good pretender, and Camilla 
had her quick insight where people's sentiments r^arded her- 
self. So she swelled with not imnatural pride at being found 
qualified for an honor which the friend who plumed herself 
on genius must go without. 

She had given orders that nobody, nobody, under any cir-* 
cumstance, should be admitted to see her. But her door was 
unexpectedly forced. When the dinner hour came it found her 
ordering that meal after all for two. 

A waiter brought the courses on a tray, which Madame's 
maid receiving at the door placed on a little table between her 
lady, — still in loose hair and rose-colored chamber-robe, — and 
a stranger. 

The most surprising person, really, to be seen eating knee to 
knee with the quality. A woman in middle years, hopelessly 
and comfortably common, sallow, black-haired, brown-eyed, and 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 303 

to be known at sight, whatever the distance, for an Italian. 
In marked contrast to her hostess, she held herself badly; she 
might be said to eat rather badly, too. Despite all of which it 
must have been, to an observer of any perspicacity and breadth, 
a likeable personality, so good-hmnoredly unpretentious, so 
heartily at home in its own simple vulgarity. 

The two talked in Italian, which Stephanie did not under- 
stand. They addressed each other by the intimate thou. 

" For me, I did n't wish to come,'^ the outsider said in a tone 
of exculpation, without interrupting the proceeding of getting 
up her gravy by means of her bread. " It was he who insisted. 
I told him it would do no good, but with his fancy aflame over 
this affare, he wouldn't listen.'' 

" And if the affare were dipping down buckets into the gold- 
mines of Peru, I would n't consent," said Camilla, and nothing 
in the world could be so firm as the look of her eye through 
that veil of black hair. " No, no, and no 1 " she brought down 
the flat of her hand with a light smack, making the claret shiver 
just perceptibly in the glasses. '^ The babbo should know me by 
this time, should remember, besides, the state my position 
obliges me to keep up. No and no ! Speculations, — nothing ! 
Affari, — let him not think of them 1 I have done for you pre- 
cisely all I mean to do. What did any of you do for me in 
the old days? Bread and tears, I lived on, — bread and tears. 
While you, you have a good house, convenient to the city, and 
an allowance that should make you blush to ask for another 
penny . . . Two francs flfty a head! As Aunt Battistina and 
Olindo's little girl can never require so much, the babbo makes 
his proflt off them. What more does he want? All his evenings 
at the caffi, a tricycle for health and diversion, every luxury I 
And you, Bianca, have in addition the commission on the sale 
of my discarded wardrobe, my share amounting, of course, to 
just what it suits you to make it." 

^*Yahbene! Vdbbenel It's not I, Camilla mia, who com- 
plain. Nor do I take the babbo's side in this. He gave me no 
rest, pressing and persuading. I knew it would do no good, but 



304 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

yielded finally because of my desire to see you. You never 
write. . . . Scusa, but are you going to eat your bread? No? 
I may take it? Also a little more of the sauce/' 

Camilla^ who treated her dinner with sincere indifference, — 
gluttony no more than sloth was ever among her faults^ — 
waited with patience^ rolling a wee bread-ball, while the other 
ate. Her feeling of superiority was not incompatible with 
a kind of enjoyment in seeing that good appetite appease 
itself. 

" Buonissimol " said Bianca, through a mouthful. " You live 
well. We don't live badly either. Aunt Battistina still goes 
into the kitchen from time to time. She likes to be doing 
something. She teaches Mariuccia to knit stockings. But she 's 
a scatter-brain, Mariuccia, — scapatal^* 

"How is she coming up?'* 

*' Cosi . . . Not badly. You know how her mother, that 
donnaccia, first stole her away and kept her hidden to vex 
Olindo, and when afterwards the miserable boy had gone off 
to do the soldier, and it suited her convenience, she came and 
plumped the child on our hands? Well, now, after we have 
fed the child for years and educated her and become attached to 
her, we hear that the mother says she will come some fine day 
and claim her. . . . Ah, donnacda, proprio una donnaccia! But 
babbo says she will have to reckon with him.'' 

" I hope Mariuccia does not resemble her genitrix." 

" If she does, the good examples she has all the time before 
her eyes, living with us, will form her character differently, we 
hope. To tell the truth, I cannot see that she resembles Olindo 
or any of his family." 

" Olindo should not have committed that folly." 

" Ah, say not a word, he paid for it ! When I think of him, 
driven mad by his troubles, enrolling and going to Abyssinia, 
and there dying, far from his own, God knows how, in a hospital, 
I find myself ready to cry, even to this day . . ." She in fact 
choked over her mouthful, and with difficult haste swallowed be- 
fore going on, her face all flushed with her sincere weeping. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 305 

"He was mad over that evil woman. Even when one canH 
suppose that he retained any affection for her, — to love her 
after all she had done to him must have been an impossibility, — 
still she could one way or the other drive him crazy. He had 
grown thin before he went, had you seen him, — thin I ... Do 
you remember, Camilla, what a dear boy he was? All heart, 
all gaiety ? Till that snake of a giardiniera got hold of him, and 
he never had another hour of peace. And now she speaks of 
taking back his child, which is all we have left of him. But 
the babbo says he will receive her with blows of a stick.^' 

'* The babbo has changed very little, I imagine.'* 

Bianca rubbed her handkerchief to her eyes, and laughed 
through drying tears. " On the contrary, the babbo has changed 
very much since he began to far U signore. You would not 
know him, he is so elegant. Figurati, the other day he comes 
home with a monocle stuck in his eye, and looking so serious 
with it! But we couldn't keep serious. Such laughter from 
us, that he went up in a fury I But he has never since put 
it in when we could see him.'* 

''I do wonder what they can be talking about,'* thought 
Stephanie, seeing the visitor first cry and then laugh, while the 
princess, without going to any such extremes, yet reflected 
her guest's emotions. The stranger, Stephanie presumed, was a 
former lady's maid, one of those who become, as is not too rare, 
confidential friends. Or, she after further watching guessed 
again, she had been a seamstress in the maternal house before the 
princess's marriage, and their remembrances in common made 
them friends. She was certainly not shy, the seamstress, not 
shy at all, in helping herself to dessert. 

"And how do things go with you, my dear?" Bianca took 
up sociably, along with the mastication of almonds and raisins. 
"How is Prince Constantine ? " 

At that name, Camilla's eyes became as strong fortresses, each 
pupil the mouth of a pointing cannon. "He is not here. 
There is another who has the same ideas as the babbo. Without 
my strength of character, he would long ago have frittered away 



306 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

my whole fortune. We are at war just now. He is sulking 
at Nice.'' 

" And can you go to this great ball without him ? '* 

" Perfectly. I shall make my entrance under the wing of an 
older woman, a person of very brilliant position, who will meet 
me in the cloak-room. Her carriage cannot accommodate me, 
because her son and his wife will be going too.'' 

Bianca, peeling a mandarin, bent forward presently through its 
sweet and pungent fumes to ask, " How, will you tell me, did 
you make acquaintance with the Duchess of Monaco ? I under- 
stand, of course, that your title gives you the entrance into the 
world of rank and fashion, but in the case of a reigning sovereign, 
it would please me to know by what exact ceremonies . . J^ 

" It was very simple. We both admire the Morpurgo. When 
on the first night of Faustina she fainted from pure excite- 
ment we met in her dressing-room. The rest followed." 

" Ah, the lovely life you have of it ! " sighed Bianca. 

The dinner service had been removed, only the coffee left, 
and while Camilla sat back, dipping her lip in the burning 
black fluid, Bianca, cup in hand, moved about, frankly ex- 
amining this and that, treating her curiosity to a full mead too. 

Pausing at the mantelpiece she stood lost in interest before 
a large framed photograph. It presented a bounteously built, 
noble-looking woman, who appeared indescribably like a person 
of note, holding against her side a noble-looking, well-nourished 
white dog. 

Bianca gave a small snort of laughter as she examined the 
knowing and humane old face. ^^Do you always keep it on 
view like this?" 

^^ Indeed I do. Indeed I do. I should say I did. That is 
my porte-bonheur. I should no more dare to cast disrespect on 
that image, after the luck she brought me . . ." 

"Luck! You well may call it luck! " came from Bianca in 
a burst of open and passionate envy. "I don't see how you 
did n't drop dead when her will was made known." 

"I wonder at it myself," said Camilla reflectively, "for un- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 307 

til that moment I was not sure of anything. Indispensable as 
I had made myself, I had never gained the smallest ascendancy 
over her. I came near being dismissed without further cere- 
mony, less than a month before the- end, for kicking that old 
bother of a dog, who was always under one^s feet. We were 
not in sight, but he gave a yelp. When I was told how much 
she had left me, I said, ' That woman was my disguised angel, 
and I want no other tutelary saint.' I should as soon think of 
deposing Saint Anna from her shrine as the picture of that 
just woman from its place of honor.*' 

"And do you tell inquirers that you used to rub tonic on 
her scalp, and search the dog for fleas? . . . No, but seriously, 
would you mind telling me just what you do say when people 
ask who it is?'* 

A subtly self -appreciative smile brought the faintest twinkle 
of crows'-feet about Camilla's eyes. " Sometimes she is the 
Grand Duchess Amalie, whom I met at Baden Baden. Some- 
times she is Lady Otway, who took me when I became an orphan 
and was to me a mother. But when there are English in the 
room she is of course Mrs. Northmere, the famous writer, with 
whom I had at one time the pleasure of intimate association.'' 

Bianca in her turn of inspection had reached the ball-dress, 
overflowing from a great paste-board box. 

" Where does it come from ? " she asked, handling the silver- 
shot black lace with a look of envy singularly untainted by ill- 
will. 

« Paris." 

" How much did you give ? " pursued Bianca, sans gene. " Ah, 
I wish I could be here to see you dress, but I suppose you won't 
be leaving till long after my train. This will become you 
well. How wonderfully you have kept your looks 1 Who woidd 
believe me to be the younger of the two?" 

She came finally, after touching everything else in the room, 
to the piano, on which lay a careless pile of sheet-music, and 
fell half mechanically to examining that. 

" They are pieces your friend the Morpurgo sings ? " 



308 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Camilla nodded. 

*'But these for tenor voice? Ah, the name is written on 
ihem. M. de Segovia. Who's he?** 

'^In the same company. When the duchess calls, we some- 
times make a little informal music. I play the accompani- 
ments.'* 

Bianca gazed over at her with fixed, expectant interest. Ca- 
milla set down her empty coflfee-cup, walked to where a bunch 
of violets stood drinking from a painted bowl, and bending to 
smell them, softly hummed to herself, more or less recognizably, 
" Ah, fors'd lui. . . r 

''Strelitz, Photographer, Purveyor to their Highnesses the 
Duke and Duchess of Monaco,'' Bianca's voice broke upon her 
humming. "Photographs, then? Proofs? Of yourself? May 
one look?" 

Camilla crossed over to her with a quick stride, and as if her 
patience had given out under this too long continued, all too 
familiar prying and questioning, snatched the packet from her 
hands. For the length of the exposure of a tablewu vivant the 
two stood fixed in silence, Camilla lowering a little, the dis- 
concerted Bianca guiltily blinking. 

Then, when Bianca was expecting nothing but a bit of plain 
talk on the subject of her manners, Camilla, with another 
change of humor, calmly and good-naturedly opened the packet, 
and when she had dealt a collection of fresh collodion-scented 
gold-brown proofs all over the top of the piano, allowed Bianca 
to lean against her shoulder with an arm at her waist, while 
they looked at them together. 

" They were sent to me for my advice in making a selection, 
for the benefit of my taste," she said casually. 

At first glance they looked like pictures of a dozen people, 
until the eye presently found repeated in them all the identical 
head of hair, a casque of dark curls, shadowing the same smooth 
and charming forehead. The well-molded features, so much 
of them as was not veiled by a slight curly beard, lost nothing 
in superficial attractiveness from the fact that the outlines 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 309 

were all a little soft, as if a flame had for an instant come too 
near a wax mask. 

"Ah/* sighed Bianca, with simple relish^ "what a beautiful 
man I *^ After a spell of rapt absorption, " In this, I can tell, 
he is Faust. Here, I suppose, he is Manrico. This must be 
Emani, no? This — ^^ with increasing delight in these signs 
of intdligence from herself, and pride in a wide operatic ex- 
perience, *' is Badames. Here, with the Medici collar, he must 
be the hero in the Ugonotti, I can't think of his name. Here 
in the modem hunting-suit, who is he?'* 

" Alfredo, in the Traviata.'^ 

'^ And this monk is the lover, what do you call him, in the last 
act of the Pavorita. This one here I don't know. Oh, what a 
beautiful young man I . . . And so he, I suppose, is the De 
Segovia who does the tenor with the Morpurgo. 1 11 wager he 
sings well. Spanish? . . .'* 

Camilla answered by a nod, without interrupting her uncon- 
scious himmiing, " Ah, fora'i lui . . .'* 

" Yes, it is easy to tell from the eye, large, melting, and 
ardent.'* 

**Well, I shouldn't mind being the Morpurgo, doing Mar- 
gherita to his Faust I " was Bianca's final jest, in the same voice 
of good-natured envy she had used toward Camilla's good 
fortune, as, tearing herself away from the piano, she started the 
search for her hat-pins. 

The hat she put on was large and black and richly garnished 
with plumes, a little dusty and uncurled after the long journey, 
but the ornament originally of a very fine bird. It set well 
on one side of the head, exposing with a bold flare the blackest 
of velvet facings. Under it a vague family likeness came to 
the surface between the sawed-off, stout, dowdy Italian and the 
beautiful young person lending her arm long ago to Mrs. 
Northmere in the main street of Montreux. 

" Listen," Camilla said, as Bianca gathered up her little bag, 
her mantle and her umbrella. "You came to get something, 
and you didn't get it. Your demand was not within reason. 



310 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

But to show that I am generous, that I love you all, I will do 
something else. Not that you in any manner deserve it, but 
that I feel well disposed. The allowance shall be increased to 
twelve francs a day. There, am I good? Are you satis- 
fied? . . . Now run, or you *11 lose your train. Kisses to all at 
Villa Clelia I '' 

The door closing at last after the departing guest, Camilla, 
with the superior smile appropriate to a munificent Providence 
lingering on her lips, sought the contiguous bedroom, where the 
perfume of a thousand white irises enveloped her deliciously. 
Stephanie was playing the atomizer on a change of finest body- 
linen spread over the bed. 

The toilet began. 

With her own fingers finally the princess, after watchfully 
following the dressing of her hair in the mirror, placed jewels 
among the dusky thickets, still humming, as she did this, dreamy, 
inadvertent snatches of " Ah, fora'i ltd . . .'* 

'* Sarebbe forse un vero amoref (And is this love, mayhap, 
true love?) '' she was murmuring, when a tap at the door was 
followed by the delivery of a letter. With pleasure and surprise 
she noted the crest. At sight of it, by natural association of 
ideas, there danced before her eyes in a dust of gold the 
thronged ducal ball-room, with an apparition of herself at the 
throne-end, in converse with her High Serenity, the duchess. 

She opened the missive, read, then made a motion to Steph- 
anie not to bother her, and sat a while — petrified. 

Her cheek had turned deathly, her eyes were fixed upon her 
own eyes in the mirror and inside of them thought was work- 
ing, working, rapidly, intensely, furiously. 

*' Irregularity.'* Several times she looked up that word on 
the page, while her racing brain searched, searched. She leaned 
back, feeling ill, too ill, for a moment, even to think. 

Then the color refilled her face, brighter than before; her 
eye, which had gone quite dead, burned hotly resolute ; the flat 
of her hand came down with a considerable impact on the dress- 
ing table. ^' Stephanie I Stephanie ! '* she called, and while the 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 311 

maid fetched the ball-dress and other effects, she attentively en- 
dued her lips with the proper carmine and applied to her cheeks 
the powder-puff. 

'WTien she had made herself completely beautiful in thin and 
trailing black, star-inwrought, and had taken a long look at 
herself in the pier-glass, a figure of magnificent impudence, she 
started for the ball. Aunt Masha, who, after a day of de- 
licious independence in her chamber on an upper story, had 
come down for a look and a good-night, thought she had never 
seen Constantine's wife look so strikingly, imperially hand- 
some. 

If it had been possible to drive rapidly and directly to the 
palace-door all would have gone differently. Heaven only 
knows how it would have gone. But the princess's carriage f eU 
into a line of carriages stretching away and away down the road, 
and in the tedious waiting something slowly cooled within her, 
even as her cheek cooled in the night air. When at last her 
horse's hoofs rang on the courtyard flags, and the piles of can- 
non-balls showed up mysteriously threatening under a faint 
moon, and her carriage found itself to be the very next in order 
to the one unloading its muffled charges before the lighted por- 
tals flanked with sentries, she called to her coachman very faintly, 
*' Move on. I will not alight. I am feeling ill.'' 

When they had reached the road, she spoke to the coachman 
again, " Drive straight ahead until I tell you to turn. I think 
the air may do me good." 

She sat back, bundled in satin and fur, aware of a great sense 
of escape, and at the same time wonder and dismay at the 
giving out of her steel nerve. 

What did it mean, that breaking of the courage, and this 
extraordinary fatigue, this complete languor, following upon 
it? Simple arithmetic offered an answer. Was it just that? 
. . . No, no, it could not be, entirely; such a little while ago 
she would have been able to carry it through. She reviewed 
her plan of action: By appearing at the ball, with high head 
and unshakeable front, to confound the busy guardians of Court 



312 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

propriety, and confute the charge upon which her invitation had 
been withdrawn. Given supreme audacity, it was practical, per- 
fectly. She might, luck aiding, have saved all. 

Was not the secret of her weakness the fact that in the very 
center of her heart she did not, at this pass, really care enough 
for such a triumph to take so great a risk? The game was 
not worth the candle. There were other things in life. This 
divided interest it was which had cut down her strength to half. 

As she drove along the Yentimiglia road, her abstracted eye 
brightening at intervals with reflections of the dimly silvered 
sea between the sleeping villas, and, refusing to examine into 
a ruin too bad, absolutely, for pride to face, turned to search for 
solace, there stole over her a most unusual desire to weep. A 
poor, poor woman, she felt herself to be, wronged and defrauded 
all her days, forced to keep up a battle without the respite of 
an hour, always exposed, exploited, never cherished, protected. 
Till now, all at once, it was too much, she was tired to the soul. 
She felt the need of a refuge, refuge inside of a heart. • . • 

A sense of the treacherous fugacity of years was upon her, 
the brevity of life, the perishableness of beauty, the tragedy of 
losing the one and leaving the other without one solitary taste 
of happiness, that happiness which the sublimest poets unite 
with the cheapest yellow-paper novels to call alone worthy of the 
name. 

Ah, how do we live, stultified by the tumult and din of the 
world, engrossed by this and that, ignorant what are the true 
roses, the true fruits, until there is little time left to savor 
the splendors and ardors predicted by our instincts, before en- 
vious autumn with withering touch shall put an end to the 
enchantment. . . . 

Camilla wept, and thirsted so much after that fount of hap- 
piness, yearning in every starved vein and fiber, that not the 
shocking defeat of the evening, not the upheaval of existence 
to follow, could retain any considerable importance when by 
imagination she forefelt the strange bliss of getting for her 
heart at last its fill. . . . 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 313 

The word "irregularity" flashing back upon her, her fist 
doubled and her eye gleamed ominously in the gloom of the 
coup6. When she had settled what her proceeding should be 
with regard to that " irregularity," and had ordered the driver 
to turn, there shone before her, beyond a bit of earthquake-riven 
landscape and stormy sea, a fair far scene: Upon a sunburnt 
southern coast, picturesque, a villa nestling among roses and 
shady bosquets, a balcony with striped awning above softly lap- 
ping waters, a garden with mossy seats and urns, the whole se- 
cluded, scented, silent, — little fitting Paradise in which to begin 
at last to live. 

As they reached the hotel, before the night porter had had 
6me to spring for the carriage door, the princess spoke to her 
coachman, " Pray say nothing of my indisposition. There are 
those whom it might distieas." 



CHAPTEB VII 

BY an early train the princess^ immensely chic in a bonnet 
that was little more than a smoke of golden osprey, reached 
Nice, and descended at one of the large hotels. In the oflSce, 
where she seemed well-known, she asked at once, " Will you be 
so good as to beg Prince Constantine to come and breakfast with 
me?'' 

He did not look a very amiable personage, the prince, but he 
did look to Camilla as much as ever incontestably the prince. 
His manner toward her before others, so perfect that she found 
it a source of perennial gratification, vexed her to-day for the 
first time . . . Even so is a thrifty housewife vexed at the 
necessity to throw out something good along with the trash for 
burning. 

Her eye took in, singularly, with greater appreciation than in 
years, the fatigued yellow cheeks, dusted with flower of rice from 
his fresh shaving, the imperturbable mouth, — Constantine never 
showed his teeth, one only knew he had them when he picked up 
his chop-bone, — the silent eye, surprised at nothing and quite 
uninvolved with the smile that ever at the correct moment lifted 
the spikes of his mustache. 

It came and went all through the dejeuner, tiie correct smile 
under the unamused eye, while his lady with pleasant animation 
told him of the duchess's ball, which it was a pity truly he 
should not have attended. Who was there, what was said, what 
was worn, she told him at length and in some detail. 

The white-gloved waiter had left them alone with their coffee 
when, after the silence involved in lighting her cigarette at the 

314 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 315 

match he amiably held for her, she spoke, "A very singular 
thing happened/^ 

He waited, politely patient, while she took a puflE or two. " A 
very singular thing, Constantine. Baron Weigelis, the Chamber- 
lain, offered me his arm for a turn, and when we were apart 
from the rest, out on the terrace, he said to me, * Madame, you 
have an enemy. Yes, an enemy. I should advise you to re- 
view your friends, and scent out the false one. Princess, whom 
have you offended?' I said to him, * Ask rather whom I have 
benefited. Is not an enemy commonly one who has eaten from 
your hand?* 'There has reached us,' he continued, ' — and I 
grieve,' he said, 'even to repeat the offensive impertinence, — 
there has reached us notice of a certain irregularity in your 
position, which, if credited, must exclude you from such an as- 
semblage as this. That it has not been credited is shown by 
your presence here to-night. The duchess herself was warm in 
her insistence that scorn for the cowardly slanderer should be 
shown by special favor to yourself. My advice is, however, 
search for that enemy, lest his secret malignity succeed in quar- 
ters where you are less fixed in unshakeable esteem.' " 

Prince Elaguine could not, certainly, by the most casual 
physiognomist have been supposed a person easily overpowered 
by the need either to laugh or to weep. Yet here he laughed 
outright, — laughed as if unable to control himself, laughing, as 
French rhetoric would describe it, to her nose. 

" Ah, canaille, I knew it ! " broke from Camilla, her urbanity 
dropping like a rain-sopped cloak, and her eye flashing green 
fire. " I knew it 1 I recognized your claw I " 

He raised a moderating hand and whispered exasperatingly, 
'' Camilla, the servants 1 " 

Lowering her voice, she continued all the more intensely, " If 
you thought I would not guess! For one thing, who else 
knows? But the sneaking meanness of it would in any case 
have given me the clue. So like! So in character! You — 
you — " 

" Camilla, the servants, voyons!*' 



316 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Again she dropped her voice. *' DonH be afraid ! '* she spoke 
through lips quivering with hardly governed excitement. "If 
you think I am going to make a scene you are mistaken, my fine 
sir. See me smile, smile, rather, that you should have played 
into my hands. I had compunctions until this, — in my imbecile 
loyalty I had compunctions about throwing you out among the 
sweepings, like the bad potato that you are ! '* 

The prince laughed carelessly, and at the snickering sound a 
flood of color rushed to Camilla's face. She brought down her 
palm resonantly. " Silence!'* she shouted, "and let me speak! 
That one will laugh well, I tell you, who laughs last. I think 1 
see you laughing when I drop you and turn my back. I may 
not have accommodated you with the sums you demanded to 
gamble away, but the straw-colored gloves and the gardenia were 
paid for with my hard earnings. And I shall continue, you 
think, to feed a dog who bites ? '* 

The prince, lounging on his chair, impervious, ironical, and 
keeping prudently out of the whirlpool, wore the trying mascu- 
line air of sharing with his whole wise sex the opinion that it 
matters very little what a woman says. 

There was something unexpectedly ingenuous about Camilla 
in a temper; they were the cautious self -controlled being's only 
moments of frankness, when this bottled spirit got out and 
jumped into possession. There was undeniable refreshment to 
her in such relaxation and surrender ; it seemed at the moment 
to do her good, though she was always careful to take medicine 
afterwards against the known evil physical results of choler. 
She was never mortified, upon cooling off, by the sense of hav- 
ing been undignified. A wholesome capacity for rage she held 
to be an excellent thing in woman, like a whip with which to 
make oneself respected, like a fine, ferocious bull-dog to set on 
the enemy. 

The expression on the prince's tired, distinguished mask while 
he watched her was such as no passion of fury could do justice 
to, — nothing but hurling the sugar-bowl at his head. This 
seeming to Camilla even in that exalted moment not thoroughly 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 317 

practicable, she reined in suddenly, and stud3ring him a moment 
for the pattern, tried to frame an expression equal to his for 
satirical hatefnlness. 

" When a prophet sees his prophecy come true, how gratifying 
it must be, Constantine I I learn it by my feeling over the fore- 
warning of my instinct, which now proves to have been so just. 
Have I not reason to felicitate myself that I never would marry 
you, — would never,'^protest as you please, give you the slightest 
right over my money? What? Give to a spiantato such as 
you, by really marrying him, an actual right over one's money? 
Not that sort of simpleton was I ! No. Listead, I make a bal- 
ance of interests so neat that for years and years it works to per- 
fection. In this dish of the scales I place this, you in the 
other dish place that. But now that you have destroyed the bal- 
ance, tell me, what do you expect?'* 

" That for a few days a fine scandal will enliven the front 
page of the newspapers,'* he said indifferently. 

" True I True I But I will not read them, your newspapers. 
I drop them along with you among the sweepings. I vanish 
where the echo of your low doings cannot reach me. Your 
revengeful spite proclaims everywhere the irregularity of our re- 
lation, but you can never publish it so loud as by my own action 
I myself will have published it. For, know it from me, there 
is a man who loves me, — it is possible to love me, you know, — 
a man who loves me and whom I trust, and in him, differently 
from yon, I wiU show my confidence by marrying him openly 
and fast, in church first and afterwards before the mayor I ** 

"Your shot does not bowl me over, my green-eyed siren; 
your powder was damp. Do I look surprised? I only rejoice 
that, prepared for all this, I got in my bit of a joke just in 
time.** 

" What*s that ? What's that you say ? ** 

"I say,** he replied languidly, "that, supposing there is 
truth in the beliefs of a certain sect, I shall try when reincar- 
nated — if the taste for fair women persists in me, that is, — to 
reappear upon this earth as a tenor.** 



318 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Not by any means the end of their confab was this, each of 
the two having really a great deal that needed saying to the 
other. Camilla's bull-dog finally slipping his collar and get- 
ting completely away from her was met by a fairly formidable 
bull-dog on the other side, a noiseless, nasty beast. 

In spite of the prince's periodical warning, '^ Cameeldh, les 
domestiques!** there might have been observed before the end 
a shadowy grouping of attentive forms about the door behind 
which the Elaguines were finishing their dejeuner together. 

On the way back to Montecarlo, Camilla, gazing fixedly ahead, 
instead of the advertisements of Riviera hotels adorning the 
railway carriage, was seeing — but nearer and more clearly de- 
fined, — the fair far scene of before, the little villa among roses, 
where she should begin at last to live ! 

When she got back to her hotel at dusk, she found the human 
eoimterpart of a lion pacing the drawing-room as if it had been 
a cage. She had expected this. 

Her hands were grasped, and Manuel accused her, trembling 
with the blend of wrath and love that is jealousy, "You have 
been to Nice I '' 

" To Nice, yes.'' 

" You could not support the pain of absence another day. It 
came over you, like that, and you ran oflf to him for a few hours. 
Or did he send for you? Did he dare to? And you immedi- 
ately obeyed. You went And you affect indifference. But to 
one who has seen you fasten the fiower in his coat . . ." 

^ This is very reasonable I — I went because of a little matter 
of business to regulate." 

*'A11 day yesterday you shut yourself in with the excuse of 
the ball, and to-day, when you should naturally be staying at 
home and resting, I come, and am informed that you have gone 
to Nice." 

*' It was a little matter that could not wait." She was set- 
tling herself back among the cushions of the sofa, with a lovely 
effect of lassitude. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 319 

**I try to be discreet, considerate. I keep away until late, 
late, to let you rest after the fatigue of dancing all night, and 
when after two whole inhuman days of separation I come, you 
have gone to Nice/* 

" And now that I come back, very tired, my friend, with the 
day of travel succeeding the night of dancing, it is a sweet and 
kindly welcome which I find awaiting me . . /' 

" Ah, Diane, what do you want me to do? How do you ex- 
pect me to endure it? Do you wish to see me damned? The 
end will be that I shall kill him ... I felt it while I was wait- 
ing for you. I shall see him, insult him, force a duel upon 
him . . . and then what? What chance has that mannequin 
against me? The truth is I dare not challenge anybody seri- 
ously, I am so sure of my hand. Ask Sarti. It would be mur^ 
der. But there is not room in the world for both of us while 
you make excursions like this, every day or two, to Nice. Oh, 
I am tired of suffering. When we fight I will let myself be 
kiUed . . :' 

" Hush I Do not say such dreadful things even in jest.'* 

'^Jestl . . r 

"Yes. It is not serious, raging like this at your friend, 
raining reproaches upon her, giving her pain.** 

*^PainI . . :' 

**What is her fault toward you? Gome! A too great pa- 
tience, a too indulgent gentleness. This weakness in her you 
should not be the one to punish. Because she was not harsh 
and stem she is to live, it seems, in perpetual fear.*' 

" Are you preparing me to be told that he is coming back to 
Montecarlo? Is that your fear? Diane, keep him from it. 
Let me not see his face. Let me not see him touch you with so 
much as one finger. I might murder him without the formality 
of a duel . . .'* 

"No, no, he is not coming. Oh, but what a hot-head! 
Come, calm yourself, and let me for our few minutes together 
find in you the gentle and considerate companion that a tired 
woman needs.** 



320 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

"Ah, Diane, you cruel . . . cruel . . ." 

" What is it you reproach me for ? You knew that I was mar- 
ried. Would it have been less cruel, would you have preferred 
it, that I should from the first have denied you my presence? 
Kept you absolutely away? You give me reason to reproach 
myself for not having done that, but you should not reproach 
me/' 

"You know that I am grateful for every moment you have 
given me, for every smallest thing, every word, glance, smile. 
My fury is for the time and for the things you have not given 
me/' 

" Because, while being so much your friend, I retain a sense 
of duty, I lose the right to your respect, you make me feel, in- 
stead of earning it. Is it just ? *' 

"You are so reasonable, Diane, always so reasonable! Why 
do you use reason with me, whom this love has robbed of all 
the reason he ever had? You can be so reasonable because you 
are so cold I '' 

"I am cold? . . . You think that I am cold? . . /' With a 
singular smile, she held out her hand. She had not far to 
reach to touch him — he had taken the place beside her, and 
hung on the edge of the sofa, between sitting and kneeling. She 
laid one finger across his cheek. . . . 

Camilla knew how this interview must end, and knew just 
how much time she could give to it, with all the packing to 
oversee. But Manuel knew nothing, and it seemed to him from 
this point onward that a power propitious to him at last had 
turned life into a wild dream come true. When closing his eyes 
the better to get the sense of her act he felt her finger bum, 
it was like a spark sending up in a flare a barrier of straw. He 
caught her hand in both his, to kiss it with famished greed. 
Her puny effort to withdraw it availing nothing, she let him 
have it unresisting, the hand which arts and unguents and idle- 
ness had rendered smooth and white, and which he thought so 
beautiful. 

" Assure me that you do not care a bit for him I '* he pleaded 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 321 

almost unintelligibly between kisses. "But how could you? I 
offend you, only to think it . . . And yet, why did you go there 
to-day? Could you not have written? . . . No, no, let me keep 
it. A warm hand, an adorable hand. Ah, why do you show me 
you are warm and not cold, if it is only to make me ache the 
more for a happiness I am never to taste? Your hand bums, 
I have found your pulse with my lips, it is as mad as my 
own . . .** 

Camilla, with head drooping wearily backward and half- 
closed eyes, a great sadness overspreading her face, murmured 
as if she were talking in sleep, " They rear us in convents where 
we are taught reverence for every law, ordinance of heaven or 
man. They drill us to the strictest discipline and subjugation 
of self. Then, before we are old enough to know our hearts, or 
indeed to know we have hearts, they make our marriages for 
us. ... I was so young! When I remember! . . . And 
after that we are to live within our narrow boundaries, and be- 
ing well-brought-up women we do it. And we are never to ad- 
mit that we have blood, imagination, heart, the power to love 
outside of duty . . .*^ 

He hardly seemed to be listening to her words, only to the 
faint, sad voice, which indicated a mood for the moment so far 
from amazonian that from kissing her hand he passed to clasp- 
ing her waist and pressing his face to her heart. 

"One comes and goes,** she continued her monologue, so 
passive in his hold it almost seemed that wrapped in other 
thoughts she did not feel it. " One laughs, one makes oneself 
fine and runs after pleasures. One is happy and contented, 
the world thinks. They do not know, behind the mask of joy, 
the disillusions, the emptiness, the desert, the cold and dark of 
her life ! . . . Ah, Manuel, leave me. You have found me in a 
moment when I am not strong !...** 

" I will leave you, you think, when I can hear the beating of 
your heart, hammering like my own? I will leave you when a 
divine weakness is about to bring an avowal to your lips? No, 
the dear warmth of you against me has gone to my head like 




322 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

the wine of madness . . . What have we been dreaming^ Dian 
What have we been contending against ?^^ Using his stren. 
without mercy, yet with muscles trembling from tendem 
kneeling he bowed her down to him till her head rested like 
fainting woman's against his shoulder; and then triumph 
but yet hasting like a robber not too sure, sealed her his o 
over and over with ardently pressing lips placed here, there, 
all he loved and claimed. 

" Kiss me in return, one single time, at least ! *' he fin 
entreated, lip to lip, in the voice of one who feels slightly 
used, after all. 

She disengaged herself. For all the blood his fervor had 
brought to her cheeks, she was expressively pale. She took his 
head between her hands and held it, gazing at him. She looked 
long and steadily, with indescribably beautiful and speaking, 
really extraordinary eyes, whose light seemed to flow like a palp- 
able liquid into his heart and enlarge it to bursting . . . Slowly 
she brought her face closer and while, feeling her breath, he held 
his own, suffocating with emotion, he received a kiss which satis- 
fied him as not the gift of the whole world would have done. 

" Now you must go,'* she said, in her practical tone, when the 
embrace which followed had lasted, she thought, long enough. 
She lifted her hands to feel if her hair were in place. " This 
ends the old life. Do not think that I will consent to do like a 
thousand other women, who take a lover and deceive the hus- 
band while shielded by his name. Secrecy, subterfuge, snatched 
moments? No. You are ready for everything, I know, and 
so from this moment am I. To-morrow we leave. Are you 
singing to-night?*' 

"Yes, but . . :' 

" You should be going. You will be late. Act as if nothing 
were. Early in the morning you will receive a note which will 
tell you what you must do. Go now. I need a moment of soli- 
tude to recollect myself before meeting the eyes of the world.*' 




He tells them, too. with an easy, convincing simplicity, 
a swinging, worldly-wise manner with many a toudi 
of humorous observation and unaffected local color. 

COKE, DESMOND 

Helena Brett's Career ^^""poJlidS^A? 

The Chicago Evening Post thinks that the way in which 
Helena worked out her personal share of the feminist 
Droblem is "original, and rather splendid." The New 
York Herald considers it **a very satisfactory novel," 
which should have in this country the wide sale it has 
had in England, "if women are resilly loyal to their sex." 

DASKEIN, MRS. A Desert Rose ^%,fii^,^||!J^ 

The New York Herald declares, and in headlines, 
moreover, that the love element in this novel is of 
"unusual strength and sincerity," that "its hero and 
heroine are of genuine worth and charm," that the 
"plot is interesting," and that the "descriptions of life 
in the Australian bush arc well done." What more 
could the novel reader ask? 

DRAKE, MAURICE WO- ^H^\f^-P^!'li 

» ^ Postpaid, $1.47 

A breezy, amusing story, to which the half-suppressed 
excitement attendmg the movements of an apparently 
innocent compan^^ of exporters of general merchandise 
lends a mystery interest. It is full of open air, adven- 
ture, hearty humor and enough character-drawing to 
make real people of the half a dozen folk who manage 
to make their everlasting fortunes before the mystery 
explodes. 

FINDLATER, MARY W. 



A Narrow Way 



/ 



/ 



Cloth, $1.35 net 

Postpaid, $1.47 

"Crossriggs," "Penny Monypenny" and "Seven Scots 
Stories," which were among last season's conspicuous 
successes, have aroused a wide interest in the novels by 
the Misses Findlater. There is a spiritual intensity 
in their faithful rendering of Scotch life, a deep, inti- 
mate, affectionate sympathy with every homely detail 
which brings out the Scot's way of looking at life, of 
approaching its affairs and handling them, which holds 
the reader's interest irresistibly. Both "A Narrow 
Way" and "Betty Musgrave" possess to the full this 
characteristic Findlater flavor. 

"They are the result of keen observation and shrewd 
understanding ; they are racy of the soil, and — they are 
Scotch. The Misses FitvdXsiUT \v^n^ >i>afe Vc>\^ i\\\. c»l i\v^ 
story teller." — Boston TranscrK^X. 



\ 



FINDLATER MARY W. 

Betty Musgrave ^'tos&uA? 

"Scotch fiction possesses an inherent gripping quality 
peculiarly its own. When one looks for the cause, it is 
found in the Scotch temperament that is mirrored in 
such novels as these — the strongest flavored and most 
pungent racial temperament that the world contains," 
said the New York Times of the books by the Misses 
Findlater. And when this Scotch vitality expresses 
itself through the medium of a graceful style and a 
sense of humor belonging to a charming personality, 
it possesses an arresting fascination. 

GRIMMELSHAUSEN, H. C. VON 

The Adventurous ^implicissimus 

Quarter goat, $2.50 net 

Postpaid, $2.62 

A limited edition of a German classic of the seven- 
teenth century, an extraordinarily vivid picture of the 
rou^h life of the period of the Thirty Years* War, 
durmg which practicallv the whole of Europe was an 
armed camp. It has hitnerto escaped translation, largely 
because of the great difficulty of rendering into English 
the racy vocabulary of its troopers. Yet for the student 
of comparative society it is invaluable. 

MACNAUGHTON, S. 

Snow upon the Desert ^^'^%stp}idSif47 

By the author of "The Expensive Miss Du Cane," 
"The Gift," etc. Its heroine was not always wise, and 
being cool and silent, was sometimes misjudged; in 
spite of her physical courage, she was in many ways 
timid, and gave to every one who approached a singular 
desire to protect her and a sense that without her wit 
and beauty a world in which there are not too many 
amusing people would be dull indeed. 

PASTURE, MRS. HENRY DE LA (Lady CUfFord) 

Michael ^^ .t£ V^^^'ff' ?»f „ Cloth, $1.35 net 

IVllCiiaCi "Peter's Mother" Postpaid, $1.47 

"Lady Clifford has written a very strong, a very 
vital novel, one upon which she has lavished the full 
charm of her very considerable literary art."-ri\r^w 
York Times. 

RHYS, GRACE 

The Charming of Estercel ^^tufliS^.t'? 

A novel of old Ulster in the time of the famous caxxv- 
paign of Essex against Tyiotv^. T\\^t^ \^ ^OccCvl*^ 
/ interest in the scheming oi E.\\2.^\3eV\v' ^ t\n^ <LO\^"^\Sfc'^>% 
/ love interest in the confVictms m^iuexvc^ cj'i. x.-^^ ^^"^^^ 



/ 



as different as well can be, and the figure of Estercel's 
white horse, for whose sake, if for no other, the book is 
worth reading. 

RYAN, w. P. Daisy Darlcy ^%,fiif im7 

A novel of that kaleidoscopic world of journalistic and 
literary London in which the young sub-editors whose 
brains feed the multiple presses consider themselves, 
if not ''the music makers, at least "the dreamers of 
dreams" and also "the movers and shakers of the 
world forever, it seems." Many questions of the day 
are natural elements in the tale, but are nowhere allowed 
to obscure the human interest 

TOMPKINS, ELLEN W. 

The Egotistical I ^%.;.lf ,rfo' 

A charming piece of work in which a delightfully 
mellow old bachelor shares his interest in his neigh- 
bors, his chickens, and his garden, and all his views 
of life in general, with the two young people who are 
his favorites. At the opening of the story their com- 
mon acquaintance with the kindly Timothy is their 
nearest approach to each other. But by his liking for 
both he unconsciously leads them into — sl very pretty 
love story. 

WATSON, E. H. Barker's ^H^^f^iKt'fi 

Postpaid, $1.47 

A very effective story of an enthusiastic young man 
who attempts without any business experience to re- 
animate a long-established theological publishing busi- 
ness and change it into a firm of modern publishers 
and fashionable booksellers. The characters are all 
good, and among them is a young woman of physical 
charms and considerable money who is uncommonly real. 

WATSON, FREDERICK ShallowS ^H^^J^'^^^t^A 

Postpaid, $1.47 

Mr. Watson has unearthed an interesting, unhackneyed 
episode of the later years of Prince Charlie, and 
weaves it into a romance lit with precisely the right 
atmosphere of bright youth and love, overshadowed, but 
undaunted, by the sombre disillusionment of the Pre- 
tender's followers. Those who may pick up Mr. 
Watson's novel out of curiosity to compare it with his 
father's "Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush" will finish the 
tale for its own charm. 



E. p. DUTTON & COMPANY 

J^dlishers 681 FlTfTH. KVr'E.^\3E. New York 



CHAPTEE VIII 

AS a result of her visit to Nice, they must strike tent, the 
princess informed her satellites. It was the prince's pleas- 
ure that all should start for Paris on the morrow. She asked 
for a time-table and studied it, while Stephanie stripped the 
salon of the charming accessories they carried about for the en- 
nobling of hired apartments, — treasures of a convenient sort, 
which would fold up and not make too much baggage. 

The princess sat up the better part of the night, busy with 
her arrangements. The quality of her excitement was surpris- 
ing to herself, in being so undividedly joyful. What? She 
was giving up all she had labored for, she was losing the proud 
place in the world which she not long before would have died 
rather than forfeit, and what she felt was unbounded hap- 
piness, spiced with triumph? "You think that in *^^ag away 
from me your sanction and support, you punish mrf)C" ghe ad- 
dressed the ranks she was leaving. " See the caseB. make of 
your punishments And she laughed aloud. ^ 

She was possessed with a spirit of delight so unrewarding, so 
indomitable, so towering, that a Scot would perhaps have called 
her fey and been afraid for her. But Camilla, with supersti- 
tions enough of her own, was luckily ignorant of that supersti- 
tion, and enjoyed for a space bliss without shadow or stain. 

" This is the way they feel,'' she said, " those bianche fidanzate 
of song and romance, on the eve of their marriage to the choice 
of their hearts I " 

A power had her fast in tow which she for once acknowledged 
as the greatest in the world, and gloried to feel that every 
obstacle which calculation or fear could now raise would be of 

323 



326 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

At the station she let Stephanie and Hortense get out before 
her. Their two trunks came first in the unloading^ to which the 
coachman lent a hand. Their small baggage was put off^ and 
then, "Have you your tickets safe, and your money, and the 
lunch? . . . Yes? . . . Adieu!'* said the princess to them 
sweetly across the door which she had brought to with a slam, 
'' Bon voyage! I am not coming with you ! '* After a graceful 
wave of her hand, with a pleasant smile and bow toward the 
two astonished women, she ordered the coachman, " Do accord- 
ing to instructions I *' 

He started up his horses, and cracking his whip was off in 
the direction from which the train for France was just arriv- 
ing. 

Camilla consulted her watch and spoke again to the coach- 
man, who looked secret and well satisfied, "We must be at 
Ventimiglia in time for the express into Italy .'* 

She had become a far more mysterious looking personage 
before she alighted. A black veil wound about her head so 
dimmed her face that she might have been an ugly woman and 
you would never have known it, imless you were so acute in such 
matters that her mere general outline betrayed to you the 
woman conscious of beauty. 

The carriage wheels had hardly scraped against the plat- 
form of the Ventimiglia railway station, before a gentleman, of 
rather more than ordinary good looks, was at the steps to assist 
the veiled lady. 

" Tout B'est bien passe f " he inquired below breath, drawing 
her hand through his arm to escort her to the waiting-room. 

'* Oui, . . . And has everything gone well on your side?'* 

" Perfectly .'* He looked a shade pale for a man in good 
health, his eye rolled from one side to the other with an effect 
of suspicion which desires to be itself unsuspected. " We have 
twelve hours advantage at least,'* he whispered. 

In the first class compartment marked by a large cardboard 
sign "Reserved,** which raced and thundered all that night in 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 327 

and out of ttumels along the Ligurian coast, there were flowers 
and fruits and wine and choice viands and picture-papers and 
cigarettes and linen pillows — everything, everything ijiai a lav- 
ish love, not too imaginative, could provide. 

The windows were up, to keep out as much as possible the 
noise and dust, and the odors of the dying flowers in the close 
padded space gave it a little the effect of a boudoir. The flame 
in its glass bowl at the middle of the ceiling shed a light as 
faint and favoring as the shaded lamp of beauty's bower. 

The lovers, too tired from several nights of insufficient sleep 
to contend against sleepiness any more, had finally, at Camilla's 
sensible suggestion, stretched to rest comfortably one on each of 
the narrow seats, and been immediately caught away into the 
land of dreams. 

When Camilla opened her eyes, daybreak was softly smiling in 
the sky and on the water, the train was galloping through a 
world of tender color and dewy light. Though not feeling 
greatly refreshed by her sleep, she did not dose her eyes for 
more, but noiselessly got a mirror out of her bag, along with 
various other useful articles, and repaired the disorder of her 
hair, and restored freshness to her face. While doing this she 
kept an eye on her unconscious fellow-traveler. 

When she had finished, and sprinkled herself with Cologne, 
and opened the window a little the better to breathe, she ar- 
ranged herself in her comer for a careful supplementary nap 
which should not muss her hair and complexion again. But 
the inclination to sleep had left her, and with eyes wide-awake, 
though half-closed, she sat looking over at her companion. 

His face was toward her, simple in sleep as a child's. But 
he had not relaxed and cast off care altogether to plunge into 
irresponsible slumbers. A slight frown drew his brows together, 
the position of his arms folded over his chest could not hide 
the fact that one of his hands clutched a solid-looking cane. 

The lady, over whose lips played a faint, curious smile, pro- 
ceeded to a very subtle mental exercise, which was by imagina- 
tion to get inside of that' big bonny curly sleeping head and see 



328 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

how all appeared from that point of view. Long minutes were 
spent in this amusement^ while the object of her study lay im- 
movable^ entranced^ breathing lightly as a baby. 

The lady^s smile deepened, spread, grew to be more than a 
smile. She lifted her handkerchief to conceal it, and behind 
that cover silently laughed. More and more unrestrainedly she 
laughed, as the whole thing looked funnier and funnier. 

Camilla's nose, almost imperceptibly aquiline in her young 
days, had now a more pronoimced arch, the tip of it when she 
laughed dipped a little, deliciously. It was dipping to the limit, 
she had turned red like a person who chokes, and her whole body 
was shaking with the effort to keep her mirth inside. She 
bit her handkerchief, and looking out at the window tried to 
think of other things. Her eyes watered. Wherever she 
looked she could still see him, Monsieur Mezzanotte, sleeping 
there with a fierce frown, his hand ready on his canne-epee, 
his head besieged by dreams of an infuriate Elaguine hot in 
pursuit. 

Very suddenly she buried her face in her hands and bent it 
low. She had heard him stir. But even then she could not 
stop laughing, it had got beyond her, it was a spasm. 

" Diane I Diane I Are you weeping ? '* she heard his startled 
and anguished voice. In a moment he was cherishing and en- 
folding her. *^ Are you afraid? Do you already repent ? Ah, 
animal that I was, to go to sleep and leave you free to 
think . . . No, no, weep not, I will give my life to consoling 
you. Voyons, voyons, my love, let me kiss away every tear ! *' 

She resisted, but could not keep her hands over her face 
against his tender endeavor. Nor could she at this moment 
have simulated weeping, not though threatened with immediate 
death. Bemoving her hands unexpectedly of her own will, like 
one playing bo-peep with an infant, she laughed out at him gaily, 
and he saw that she had only been teasing him, after the man- 
ner of lovers. 

"But what are you laughing at, follef" he queried, smiling 
uncertainly in anticipation of her answer. 



u 
u 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 329 

For a minute she could not speak. Every time she tried to 
she was convulsed. At last she got out, ''I laugh^ my friend, 
at an epigram I have just made. Do you wish to hear? . . . 
Listen^ it is a good one. Tel croit . . . Such a one believes 
himself about to become the lover of another man^s wife, who is 
in truth about to become the husband of another man's love I '' 
And off she went again in peals of merriment. 

Yes/' she addressed herself to his unintelligent expression, 

I was not really married to Elaguine at all ! '* And sobering 
down : " Oh, it is a story ... a tragedy, though you might 
not think so from my present conduct. But in this moment I 
find myself able to laugh as you see at the tragedy which em- 
bittered so many years of my life, and by a turn of destiny has 
as its fruit this compensation, this free field which it gives me 
for the most perfect happiness ! Laugh, laugh, you too, Manu- 
elito, that instead of risk, danger, and annoyance, you encounter 
peace and security; that instead of a precarious existence when 
we have eaten up those poor ten thousand francs from the bank; 
of Montecarlo, we shall have abundance forever. For my riches 
were not owed to Elaguine, my fortune is in my own name. 
Instead of a dubious position, we shall enjoy the honor and re- 
spect which the church's sanction bestows upon a union, as well 
as the calm of pure consciences. Laugh, Manuelito, that you 
have won again by playing maximum on 36, en plein!'^ 

" I don't understand ! I don't understand at all I " he mur- 
mured. " I believe you wish to amuse yourself with mystifying 
your dancing bear. But if you think I care how it happens that 
I have you. . . ." His further words of wisdom were smoth- 
ered against her cheek and lost among her hair. 

" I would wish never again to think of that abominable past," 
she spoke, held close against his shoulder. '^ My one desire is to 
forget. But I will recall it once more, and for the last time, 
now, for your sake, because it is owed to you to let you know 
that the woman you marry had no share in the blame of her 
culpable relation with another. If you did not feel from the 
first of our acquaintance how unhappy I was behind my armor 



830 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

of worldly gaiety, it was solely because I had learned to play my 
part well. Let me be brief as I can, for it is repugnant to me to 
speak of all this, and I would not to-day for the whole world 
be making myself sad. . . . My father. Doctor Cordez, at one 
time physician to Victor Emanuel/' she slipped into the little 
tone we know, the tone particular to her when telling the story 
of her life, ^was a passionate and incorrigible gambler. My 
mother, an American of fortune, knowing to her sorrow how 
tenacious was his vice and how unscrupulous it made him, so 
arranged her affairs that when she died my portion of the 
inheritance was secure from him. It was so protected, in trust 
of one of her American friends, that he could not touch it, nor 
could I, until I should reach the age of 21. The income was 
periodically forwarded, and that, though he had no right to it, 
my father wasted as he pleased. You can imagine the wretched- 
ness of my girlhood. So that when Prince Elaguine was pro- 
posed to me by my father as a husband, I was almost glad, as I 
would have been glad of anything which delivered me from the 
tyranny of that unloving and perverted parent. Child that I 
was, how could I know I was offered to the prince as payment 
of an enormous gaming debt, the stipulation being that when 
my fortune came into my husband's hands he should divide it 
with my father? Can you conceive of such blackness? But 
now appears my dear mother's foresight. She had left it to the 
discretion of her trustee, according to his opinion of my hus- 
band, to hand over my fortune at 21 or keep it till I should be 
26, better able to judge for myself and hold my own against in- 
fluence and persuasion, the money being so tied up that only 
with my consent could it be transferred to my husband. A 
complicated will, — but such things can be done in America, 
where all my mother's investments were made. Now the trustee, 
upon information which he obtained I know not how, decided 
that not until 25 should I become mistress of my own riches. 
Imagine the discomfiture of both men, their impatience until I 
reached the appointed age ! It showed how wise my dear mother 
had been, that at 25 I understood both of my natural protectors 



THE TEIJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 331 

80 well^ and had become so firm of nerve and character, that I re- 
fused to make over my capital to my husband. You can see the 
situation, but what you cannot imagine is the excess of my 
father's fury, the horror of the scenes which he made me. I en- 
dured them, however, as martyrs endured scourgings and pincers 
and roasting by slow fire rather than say or do that whidi they 
had determined not to. As the last weapon to wound me with, 
my father, in beastlike rage at his impotence to make me yield, 
hurled at me the information that I was not really married, that 
Constantino had a wife in Sussia, and I had been deceived by a 
false ceremony. Then I remembered the isolated villa, the lit- 
tle oratory, the sinister-looking priest, the thousand bad reasons 
that had been given me for this thing and that, — I saw it 
all! ... At this point of my story alone it is that I deserve 
blame. But I beg you to give me your sympathy instead. I 
was proud, sensitive ; I could not endure the shame of a scandal. 
Whichever way I turned I saw only unhappiness. The best 
seemed to me after all to continue as I was, and keep my secret be- 
fore a cruel world. My father died at that time, and Elaguine 
free from his instigations was not so bad. Persuaded that he 
would have married me if he could, I tried to regard myself as his 
wife before heaven who knew my innocence, and do my part with 
conscience and fidelity. . . . Then you came, my sweet friend, 
and were stronger than every resolution, every scruple. But if 
you blame me for surrendering, you are unnatural, and I com- 
mand you to cease at once from these bear-hugs. . . . Listen, 
man cheri. At Naples we descend at different hotels. As soon 
as ever the indispensable formalities can be dispatched, we marry. 
And then — what do you think of Amalfi for the honeymoon ? '' 



CHAPTEB IX 

THE moon of May, in her walk through yelvet space, can 
hardly have found a place better worth looking upon than 
Amalfi; and in AmalfL a certain villa between coast road and 
sea; and, upon the terrace roofing over half the lower story 
of tills, a happy pair, one of whom was not conspicuously unlike 
Endymion, while the other had points of resemblance to herself. 

On the night of her full there was not in the sky a single tat- 
ter of cloud, and if she took no pleasure in the lovers, — the Ut- 
tie moons of whose fingernails she could almost have distin- 
guished, — if she cared not for them, having forgotten, or being 
after all no more than a dead planet, they on their side owed 
part of their general gladness in being alive to seeing themselves 
bathed by her light and made mysteriously beautiful for each 
other^s eyes. Over and over the remark escaped them, in a soft 
sigh, " What a beautiful night ! What a moon I '* 

The pavement of the terrace, laid in squares of black and 
white, all warm still from the day, was here and there uneven 
and disjoined ; two balusters or three were missing from the bal- 
ustrade. The cupids of stone, — with baskets of divers fruits 
on their heads and spots of lichen on their round cheeks,^— which 
alternated with flowery urns along the parapet, showed trifling 
lapses of sequence in their anatomy. But this dilapidation was 
full of charm, because it simply meant that one was in Italy. 
White roses and wistaria contended who should get most of the 
peeling plaster wall-front ; their new loose branches waved across 
three dark rectangles, open doors into the sleeping-apartments. 

Below spread the garden, gray and blue and black and silver. 

Its old fountain tossed to the moon long chains of diamonds 

832 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 333 

which fell back tinkling to melt in the water. A tunneled wall 
of ilex bounded the charming enclosure, with its geometrical 
flower-beds, its clusters of trees, its pedestals and garden-gods. 
It shut it off from the curious on the land side, but left it open 
to the incurious sea, which stretched to-night a wine-dark ex- 
panse beneath a silver vault, in which one huge and perfect pearl 
for a lamp. 

The lover sat at the lady's feet, as he was so fond of doing, 
with his arms and head heavy on her lap, — but she was fond 
of the weight. She leaned back, hands clasped behind her neck, 
and looked at the sky; the sleeves of her loose silk garment fell 
away from pale round arms. 

There was no talk for some time, then, '^ Of what are you 
thinking, Manuelito ?'' she asked, with a little movement of 
her knee to disturb him. 

He pressed closer. '^ I am thinking that I should like never to 
stir,'' he spoke as if drowsy, ^^but have the days and nights 
slip past while I lay like tiiis, holding you and saying not a 
word." 

"Ah, yes, one is so well like this I On est si lien ainsil" 
She languorously stretched her arms, and took a long inhalation 
of the warm night with its roses. Something of it she felt pass- 
ing into her, spreading through her blood in an indescribable 
well-being. ... So she was really married. How good it was, 
to feel herself owned by this at once so gentle and so violent com- 
panion. With the hand on which glittered in solitary impor- 
tance the plain little hoop of gold she touched his hair and 
naughtily pulled it a little. 

" But you, Diane," he raised his head, " you are so energetic I 
so active ! You must order the carriage and have us driven to 
see all the curiosities twenty miles around. You must take me 
to look at temples, — temples ! And ruins, and sea-caves ! And 
when there is nothing else, you invent to make me go to the 
Cappuccini to play billiards with strangers. When all I want is 
to lie still, feeling you near, and holding on to you so that you 
cannot escape from me." 



334 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" I am planning to take you to the top of Vesuvius, soon/' she 
threatened him brightly, " big lazy little Cuban as you are ! '^ 

*'Yes. I recognize you there. Vesuvius I . . . But even 
when we stay at home, how much do I get of you? You rise 
eariy, and you go to see what the servants are doing, you order 
the meals, you keep accounts, you go around with the gardener 
giving him directions. . . .'* 

" But do you know what a dreadful existence we should have 
if I let all that go as it pleased? The disorder, the waste, the 
discomfort ? Yes, I have always cared to make the way smooth 
and sweet for those I love.*' 

"But life is so short, and you are so beautiful, and you are 
all the time finding reasons for taking yourself away from me.'' 

" You are the happier when I come back. Perhaps you would 
not care so much if I remained with you more." 

" Will you try me ? Will you promise to stay, just once, till I 
give you reason to think I am tired ? " 

" N'o, truly, my friend." 

" You see ? You know that the one time would last forever, 
you know you would never get away from me at all." 

" What I know, Manuelito, is that if I should perceive in you 
the first shadow of weariness it would wound me so deeply that I 
believe I should die." 

*^ Weary of you, you, Diane ? You see yourself, know yourself 
not ! Of others, it is possible, but of you ! Of you I who unite 
in yourself all that is adorable, all that is desired in 
woman! . . ." 

She let him try to demonstrate how far from weariness he 
was, and nothing very wise or very notable was said for some 
time. 

*^ How far away we are from them all ! " she started talking 
again, after contented silence had reigned for long minutes. 
" And how far in the past it seems ! Do you ever think what the 
newspapers must have said?" 

" Who cares ? " 

*^ How do you suppose Monsieur Bachert and Irene took it? " 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 336 

"That I can tell you. He danced up and down with rage, 
and she tried to keep him from breaking something/' 

" The good Sarti wrote you that? *' 

*^Yes. Bachert was furious. But the season was nearly 
over, and my defection did them in reality no very great wrong. 
They could put on Massimi in my parts.'' 

" You never sing now." 

" I never think of it." 

*' And you have such a voice, a voice with such a future ! I 
cannot understand. Had you never any ambition ? " 

"As a singer? No. As a duellist, a swimmer, I can at least 
understand, — the excitement, the emulation. I am very strong 
at swimming, did you know it ? I have won important wagers. 
But as a tenor ! . . ." 

" Sing something for me now." 

While demurring he was in reality searching his memory for 
something appropriate, something in tune with this singularly 
still, enchanted night which it seemed the wrong note or wrong 
word might make to break like a shining bubble. After he had 
insisted that he had forgotten how to sing and she must let him 
off, he began in a carefully restrained mezzavoce, which floated 
out over the garden barely louder than an haut-bois, " Cielo e 
mar!*' 

As he was starting the second verse, " Sing it louder ! Sing 
with all your strength 1 " she prompted. But he could not do 
this at once, against his native artistic perception. Only when 
he reached, ** Uorizzonte hacia Vonda, Vonda bacia Vorizzonte!** 
he let his voice swell, swell, till it was Triton blowing a great 
wreathed horn. The high note he held till it shone and 
burned. • • • 

At the end she clapped her hands, laughing with pleasure. 
" And you are not proud, not ambitious, with a voice like that ? 
A voice which could place the world at your feet ? " 

" You are my world, and all I want is to be at your feet." He 
resumed his place. 

I am by nature not ambitious, as you know," she rewarded 



iC 



336 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

his Bong with a little kiss, ^^ but I felt within me^ as I listened, 
how I might become ambitious for you.'' 

He had settled himself again with his head on her knees, and 
as she considered it too early for a long time yet to go in- 
doorS; he by and by during one of their luxurious silences fell 
into a delicate doze thus pillowed, a sweet half-sleep which did 
not dull for a second the consciousness of infinite well-being, of 
happiness held securely down between his elbows, — no more 
dreaming, poor dear, than did Sir Launcelot du Lac that he 
should die a holy man, how before so very many moons those 
same newspapers which had reported — very respectfully, it 
must be said, for his best friend and he alike were crack swords- 
men, — his elopement with a princess, would be publishing to 
the world that Manuel de Segovia, the well-known tenor, having 
turned impresario, was departing for South America with his 
banded stars I 



v 



BOOK POTJETH 

SIQNOaA OAMILLA 



% 



CHAPTEE I 

AT Villa Clelia, the red-roofed pink house with green blinds, 
standing in an iron-railed enclosure on the hillside between 
San Domenieo and Fiesole, it never altogether ceased to be the 
thing to speak of Madame de Segovia as the princess. 

" The princess ? ^' said Bianca to Signora Gucci, the communal 
school-mistress, who had dropped in for half an hour. " She's 
in Buenos Ayres. They are prolonging their stay, such is the 
success. Fan furore, — Manuel, my brother-in-law, chief of all, 
— everjrwhere furore!** 

** Bravo dimolto, he must be, eh?'' 

" Lo credo! " (Which signifies, " I believe it, you had better 
believe it too ! '') 

When the visitor had departed, old Aunt Battistina, whose 
mind as well showed signs of age, said, ** But, Bianca, how long 
is it since we heard from the Camilla?'' 

*'You know very well," Bianca answered simply, "that we 
have never heard. We only know that she reached land." 

It was a sullen evening and the babbo, after putting his head 
out of doors to see how bad it was, and catching a splash of rain 
on his gray brush, had decided not to go to the caffL The 
family sat in the dining-room, the square white-plastered dining- 
room, with its bit of fresco on the ceiling and its bare brick 
floor, in the middle of which was the round dining-table, in the 
middle of which again was the green-paper shaded lamp, stand- 
ing in the middle of its raveled worsted mat. On the table lay 
the Corriere della Sera (babbo was reading the Fanfulla), and 

Battistina's work-basket (she was mending), and the dog- 

339 



340 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

eared books and copy-books with which Olindo's little girl, a 
black pigtail hangiag across each flushed cheeky was preparing 
next day's lessons. Bianca was working a lace-pattern, finding 
the long nail of her forefinger quite useful to flatten out the lace- 
braid she basted on to the glazed cloth. , 

Now and then there came from the kitchen an inexpensive 
looking little servant, — she had nice gold and coral earrings, 
just the same, — who placed on the sideboard the dish she had 
finished wiping with the cloth in her hand. And now and then 
there lifted himself from the floor, where he otherwise snoozed, a 
black poodle, clipped like an ornamental yew-tree, who with his 
hind-foot scratched his ear, or with his teeth scratched his 
shoulder. 

There was little conversation, as happens often among people 
who live together. '^ Mariuccia, stop scraping your feet against 
the chair-rung ! '' came occasionally, without any sternness what- 
ever, from Bianca to her brother's child, ^^ Mariuccia, stop biting 
your finger-nails, do you hear ? '* 

And so it came to be nine o'clock, and Zia Battistina and 
Olindo's piccina were picking up to go to bed, when the doorbell 
rang, and the poodle jumped up to bark. 

*^ Who can it be at this hour ? " asked Bianca, blank and inter- 
ested. « Zt«o, Birilli I " 

Antenore laid down his paper and listened. Battistina and 
Mariuccia suspended their preparations. 

^^ Palmira ! Palmira ! " sang out Bianca, in a voice she made 
shrill so that it might carry. " Don't you hear ? (Jo and open I " 

Then all listened, and Bianca, stepping to the partly-opened 
dining-room door, stretched her neck the better to hear. 

*^I don't know, I can't make out," she answered their mur- 
mured questions. 

In another minute she moved back, to avoid being pushed by 
the door, and the visitor entered, followed by the servant — who 
tried to precede her, but she went too fast, — and a rain-glistening 
common man lugging a portmanteau. 

She was dressed in black of simple but modish cut; her 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 341 

identity was fairly lost behind a veil of large heavy mesh, spot- 
ted with unusually black chenille files. 

"Well?*' she asked, handing her dripping umbrella to Pal- 
mira, and raising her veil. "Well?'* 

Their voices burst from them all together. "It^s Camilla! 
It's Camilla!*' One after another, in their various manners, 
they fell upon her neck, Bianca weeping hysterically, Olindo's 
little girl jumping up and down, the babbo touching his hirsute 
lip to her forehead, while the poodle barked. 

*'You are going to stay with us a while? You've brought 
your baggage?" 

" Yes, I am going to stay. I have brought my baggage. 
Where is it? Babbo, can you lend me four soldi for the 
man? . . . Thanks." 

Bianca unbuttoned her jacket for her. Aunt Battistina re- 
ceived her hat and hat-pins, Mariuccia took her damp gloves. 

" I came by the tramway," she explained. " What a distance it 
is on a night like this I By good fortune I found the man to 
carry my bag." 

With her hat off, after she had tucked and patted her locks 
into place, she looked the same as ever. No, that is not accurate. 
The hair was thick and black, the dauntless eye brilliant, the 
teeth were strong and white, but a slight furrow had hollowed 
itself under the eye, where it bounded a tired shadow ; a vertical 
line had come between the penciled eyebrows; the complexion 
was a drier, more bloodless tint. 

" And De Segovia ? Manuel ? " 

**He is gone to Saint Petersburg. He's scritturato for the 
season." 

^' Ah, you should have brought him along. A prince is one 
thing, but a singer we might all hope to know." 

Wliile the women plied Camilla with affectionate demonstra- 
tions and questions, Antenore had withdrawn to the window- 
place, where he stood apart surveying tliem. His eyes, under the 
heavy eyebrows, that showed so fine and black still in contrast 
with the sti£3y upbristling gray hair and the stiff point of gray 



342 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

beard, scrutinized Camilla narrowly from a sufficient distance to 
get a general impression. 

" Is that your whole baggage ? '' he asked suddenly, raising his 
voice so as to be heard through the voices of the others. 

" The whole of it/' Camilla broke oflE from what she was saying 
to answer him. *' Weigh that valise, if you think it is not bag- 
gage enough. I have carried it, — I know ! ** And turning her 
attention once more to the rest, she went on to tell them that 
Bio de Janeiro, though different from Florence or Bome, is yet 
in its way a fine city. 

*^ Bad business in South America, eh ? '* the babbo interrupted 
her again after a time, from the other side of the room. 

"Yes, father. What would be the use of denying it? Bad 
business. — No, no, they dress down there quite as we do. 
They get the fashion-books from Paris, like us. You see the high 
comb and the mantilla just now and then. Their feet have by no 
means such high arches as the pictures on the paper fans would 
make us believe. Yes, bull-fights occasionally.'' 

"And what's become of all the others?" came the babbo's 
voice again, cleaving through the feminine chatter like a tune 
in a different key. 

Camilla, looking over at him, shrugged her shoulders slowly 
and expressively. "Who knows? — We are not the first," she 
added hardily, " and we shall not be the last, to start in a com- 
pany, with banners and trumpets, for South America, and to 
come back crawling and limping, each for himself, as best he 
can, scattering our property all along the homeward route." 

And after a moment's uneasy general stillness, during which 
it was palpably wondered what could be the meaning of this 
gruesome joke, she spoke up bravely, with a firm show of uncon- 
cern, " Bianca, will you see if the woman can give me something 
to eat ? An3rthing there happens to be in the house, — two fingers 
of wine and a little bread and meat. While I sup, I will tell 
you the whole story .'^ 

When the confusion had subsided of getting together on the 
table, at the quickest, knife and fork, napkin and plate, fiask and 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 343 

glass, bread and meat, and a stick of finocchio and half a round 
of cacio pecorino, Camilla^ with her first bite into the crusty 
Italian bread which her teeth loved, began : 

^^ It was in the middle of last September that we sailed from 
the port of Southampton. . . ." and told to the end of a story 
common enough in operatic annals. 

She gave hard facts, without word of commentary. 

A couple of hours later, in the white room which Bianca gave 
up to her sister for the night, the two talked more intimately. 
They sat on the edge of the black iron bed, at the head of 
which was suspended a Virgin, with a little basin at her feet for 
holy water. 

Camilla gave proof of her superior intelligence by showing 
on this occasion no vestige of pride. 

*' To think that I, your Camilla,'' she said, knocking at her 
forehead with the tips of her fingers gathered in a bunch, 
" should reach such a point of folly that I could involve myself 
in an opera tour to South America I To think that I — I, Ca- 
milla tua, after all the years I have lived, and all I have seen of 
the world, and when I had learned to steer my little bark so 
neatly, should split upon the rock of a tenor I Without the ex- 
cuse even of a madness for song 1 '' 

Bianca, a little below breath, asked a question. 

^^ Oh, if he gets on his feet again, I shall return to him," an- 
swered Camilla. ^^ He is the one man there has ever been for me, 
you know, if it comes to a question of the heart. Only, I should 
never again be such a fool. Backing such a venture with money, 
— money, Bianca I Do you see me doing it ? I did it, however. 
There is nothing to say. I did it. Meanwhile I must try on 
my own side to get on my feet again.'* 

As Bianca helped her to undo the portmanteau and take out 
the necessary things for the night, her hand came upon a framed 
photograph. 

*' What's happened to it ? " she asked, holding to the light the 
picture of the old author with her dog, and examining its 



344 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

curiously blistered surface. Camilla took it from lier> and 
after looking at it fixedly a moment, went to make a place for it 
on Bianca's chest of drawers, an honorable place. 

" It has been in the water. It went overboard when we were 
shipwrecked. I had placed it in my handbag, the first thing 
I tried to save. No, I would sooner part with anything than 
that. It watches over me, I tell you, it gives me good advice. 
When I was packing for that fatal voyage to South America, 
just as I was about to wrap it up, her eye caught mine. We 
looked at each other for a good long moment, and upon a 
sudden inspiration I privately separated from the rest of my 
fortune a little sum which I placed in secure trust, so that it 
could not be touched or even known of by any one but myself. 
An insignificant sum, but it will be enough to start a little 
industry in real lace. The forestieri buy so much.'' 

As they undressed, Camilla unfolded to Bianca some ex- 
tremely good ideas on the lace-trade to be started with the 
English and Americans whom she felt she had had such unusual 
opportunity to study and understand. 

Her tortoise-shell hair brushes with the great gold crest had 
stayed behind somewhere in Brazil ; but while brushing out her 
black tangles with the common wooden-backed article to which 
she had returned, and talking over her plans with Bianca, Ca- 
milla, for a ruined woman, looked astonishingly unbeaten, — ^as- 
tonishingly, as the vulgar saying is, ^^ game.'' 



CHAPTER n 

CAMILLA; arriving in Florence^ had fhonght withont the 
unnecessary delay of an hour to begin the patient and 
unresting reconstruction of her fortunes. When she lay down 
in Bianca's bed, she was resolved to arise from it bright and 
early and set to work perfecting her schemes. 

In the tension and excitement of that rather ghastly home- 
coming she had not known how tired she was. 

Too tired to go to sleep until long after Bianca had blown 
out the candle; and, when it was broad daylight outside, and 
a sound would now and then draw her back to a semi-conscious- 
ness, too tired to care if she never got up again. And when 
she finally woke, so tired still, so broken in every bone and 
spent in every nerve, her single thought was one of gratitude 
that there was nothing after all absolutely compelling her to 
exert herself. 

Away from the turbulent rushing of the flood, she had got 
into a quiet little backwater where at least it was safe. For 
the moment, that seemed to her all she wanted or could ever 
want again. Peace, just peace. At the same time, so great 
was the difference in this from her ordinary frame of mind, 
she felt as if in a dream. The future had always had for her 
great reality. Knowing what she intended to make it, she 
had had before her a vivid picture of it, in accordance with 
desire. To-day a thick veil concealed the unformed, uncertain 
to-come, only one thing about it clear, that she should be too 
languid for the rest of her days to try to alter anything. 

Hearing Bianca creep to her door to listen, she called out 
that she was awake, and Bianca entered, fidl of affectionate 
gaiety. 

346 



346 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

^^You slept well^ eh? Mine is a good bed^ eh? Wait one 
moment, I will bring your caff Matte, and hot water for you 
later/^ 

Having slowly absorbed that blackest coffee in the world, 
strong of chicory, and mixed with frothing milk, Camilla felt 
better able to get np. But she left the dressing of her hair 
until later in the day, as Bianca did. 

Leisurely the two went together from room to room, making 
the round of the house, Bianca explaining every advantage, 
giving the history of all she offered for inspection, felicitating 
herself still on the good fortune of securing Villa Clelia, and 
expressing recognition still of the fact that all was owed to 
Camilla. 

Camilla passed a hand thoughtfully over her forehead. Yes, 
wasnH it lucky she had done something for the family in her 
palmy days! 

Lastly they came into the garden. Between cancello and 
housefront was but a small graveled space, interrupted by two 
box-edged flower-beds. Behind the house it was more exten- 
sive; there were shrubs and lines of plants in pots, an arbor 
of passion-vine with iron garden-chairs and table inside, — 
the whole in an engaging disorder. There was even the mag- 
nificence of an orange-house. Beyond the garden, a podere, 
thinly shaded by olive-trees and garlanded with grape-vines. 

Camilla coming out into the sunshine, stood still at the 
foot of the three stone steps, to breathe the air discriminatingly, 
— the air of home, with its very special indescribable odors, 
its special indescribable feel on the skin, in the lungs. 

At the end of a box-bordered walk were steps to a point of 
vantage, from which a bit of view: a glimpse, through blue 
haze, of Florence, presided over by the loveliest dome in the 
world and the loveliesj; bell-tower. Camilla had not set eyes 
on them for ten years. What had she seen in all her travels 
to compare with this? 

She laid an arm without^ quite knowing why across Bianca's 
shoulders, and Bianca without knowing why began to cry. " I 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 347 

never imagined," she blubbered, "that I should be so happy 
to have you with us again! Ah^ Camillucda mia, you will 
see what a good life we shall have together!" 

Once more Camilla passed her hand across her forehead, 
thoughtfully. Yes, a good thing she had carried out that 
promise made to Bianca, and increased the allowance by two 
francs a day. Amid all the happiness, the engrossments of 
the honeymoon, she had had the good feeling to attend to 
that. Lucky for her! 

The impulse to settle on her sister a little marriage-portion, 
she had more than once in the days of her prosperity resisted, 
fearing the good-natured girl would be married for her money 
and afterwards not made happy. This she saw no reason to 
repent. 

Aunt Battistina of her own desire went into the kitchen 
that day, to prepare certain dishes of which the princess could 
hardly have partaken since she left home, and which must 
surely be agreeable to her. Old Aunt Battistina talked as 
little as ever, and when she did talk still used the Venetian 
"mt'' instead of "to/' — but she no longer looked sad. Her 
honest and tender face had settled into forgetful, contented 
lines, her bent body had withered to two-thirds of its former 
weight. When she caught Camilla's eye she would nod and 
go on smiling for some time. 

Mariuccia coming in from school hung around the new Aunt, 
listening with ears like a little pitcher's, and watching with 
bright round eyes like a bird's. 

"Does she remind you at all of Olindo?" asked Bianca, 
in a mumbled aside. 

« Not at all." 

Bianca looked reflectively at the child, who stood as near 
as a fast diminishing soggezione would permit. "Her eyes 
are black, like his, and her hair," she said doubtfully. " But her 
coloring ... Do you remember how white of face our brother 
was? All his life it was so. It seems to me now that we 
might have known from his white face that it would end badly 



348 THE TRXJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

for him. It was an omen, had we but understood^ — a signal 
of fright from nature, at the things that were going to happen 
to him . • /' After a panse devoted to silent prayer for the 
poor soul, Bianca nndasping her hands took up, with battle 
in her eye, **Do you know, that nasty woman, the wife — sfac- 
oiatal — goes saying to this one and that one that some fine 
morning she will come and claim her daughter, and take her 
away from us if necessary by force? This, after we have fed 
and clothed and educated her all these years?'' 

" I am here now,'* said Camilla. 

Antenore, when he came in to dinner, brought a little bunch 
of flowers, and offered it to his daughter with the right turn 
of the wrist exactly to show it was a compliment. At the 
end of dinner, he uncorked a bottle of white wine made from 
their own grapes at the back of the garden. He smacked his 
lips upon it, with the look of a landed proprietor and con- 
noisseur, asking, **What do you think of it, eh, you who are 
used to delicate vintages?" 

His forehead, though, was grave and care-burdened as it 
had not been yesterday. His part was that of a man making 
the best of it, while saying to himself, " How shall we be able 
to do now, with all this added expense and responsibilily? . . . 
Whatever happens, let us behave like a signore/' 

"It will be unnecessary, as it seems to me," he warned the 
family, " to say a word to anybody concerning the circumstances 
of the return from South America. My daughter has come 
home on a visit, and after ten years of absence it is natural 
the visit should be prolonged. Nobody need know anything 
of failure and misfortune." 

At evening, as it was so mild, they brought chairs from the 
house and seated themselves at the open cancello, to see who 
passed up and down the public way, and to exchange a word 
with neighbors and acquaintances. Madame de Segovia kept 
herself well in the background, but even by the faint light, 
composed of the yellow shine of a street-lamp, and of shower- 
ing bluish star-dust, she looked strikingly the noble stranger 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 349 

in that family group^ and those who heard her referred to as 
''my daughter/^ were certain from the first moment that she 
was the famous princess. 

^'What did the papers here have to say of my second mar- 
riage?'' Camilla asked Bianca np in the whitewashed room 
that night. Bianca had moved her own belongings into Mariuc- 
cia's room. 

''Listen. We here saw nothing. The papers we take had 
nothing about it. But one evening the babbo comes in from 
the caffd, f urious, because some one had asked him if the Elaghina 
who had made a romantic elopement with a singer was the 
princess his daughter^ of whom they had heard him speak. 
Somebody or other had seen the news in the Figaro of Paris. 
We certainly for a few days knew not what to think. Then 
came from you the paper containing the announcement of your 
marriage at Naples^ and we understood, naturally, that the 
prince must have died though we had never heard of it. Some 
one at the caffi said no, the prince was living when the paper 
told of your flight. But babbo declared to him it was a mis- 
take, and there an end of it. He might be supposed to know.'' 

"The prince is not dead." 

"Not dead? ... But how then . . .?" 

"We are divorced. We were married by the Bussian rites, 
and in that religion divorce is possible. In our case, it was 
the Czar himself who granted his permission, in answer to a 
special appeal and revelations from me. Constantino is a 
cousin of his, but the Czar took my side against his own relative, 
seeing the justice of my cause. . . . My dear, all I ask is that 
you will ask me nothing. Coujstantine had become unspeakable, 
ti basti quello, and I had endured it as long as I could." 

''Smtil . . . To think of it!" 

"And yet, if I had remained with him I should still have 
my money, there is that to be said," Camilla reflected aloud. 
"He will snicker when he learns of the fiasco in America. I 
can hear him! He is again in Bussia, you know. He went 



360 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

back to his family as soon as I left him^ and promised to be 
a good boy. His elder brother had just died, and that opened 
the way for a reconciliation with his people. I did not know 
these things until lately, they shed light on various events. I 
may say I have him to thank for my ruin. If he had not 
done a certain thing, I should not have done a certain other . . • 
Never mind! He wonH like it long in Bussia. If I could 
obtain what I should like as a vengeance, I would wish him 
no worse than never to get away again from the estates of his 
fathers, but drag along there to the end among those mummies 
of his own blood, surrounded by leagues of forest and beautiful 
natural scenery, while the post brings him every day the Paris 
papers.** 

"But for certain years you were happy with him, were you 
not?" 

"Happy? No. Content. For certain years I was content 
I was happy in my brilliant social circle, but in my domestic 
life I was merely satisfied to ask very little. Siamo givsti 
Constantino had certain qualities which made him not dis- 
agreeable to live with, or how could I have stood it so long? 
At the same time, he was the worst man I have known in my 
life. A part of his low nature, for instance, never to be- 
lieve a word I said. He did not believe there was one grain 
of good in anybody, and he was never astonished at badness, 
because it was what he expected. Enough to kill the soul in 
any person not so well constituted as I am, and of so inde- 
pendent an intelligence. And even to me the long association 
was harmful . . One would never have been ashamed to com- 
mit a bad action before him, and one would by preference 
have concealed a good one. The thought of expressing a moral 
scruple, of voicing an ideal, in his hearing 1 ... I got away 
from him with soul alive because I am I, but with such knowl- 
edge of this world, my dear sister, as would make a good little 
woman like you shrivel up with horror ! You can say to your- 
self, Bianchina mia, that Constantino knew everything, every' 
thing . . . and that he told it to me ! *' 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 351 

Instead of recovering energy as day followed upon day of 
indolence^ Camilla felt herself growing more utterly nerveless. 
And the sense persisted that she moved in a dream. She was 
glad when the hour came at night to go to bed and steep her- 
self in the heavy sleep which awaited her between the coarse linen 
sheets of Bianca's bed. Bianca's own sleep^ it seemed to her^ 
which she found there^ lying down to it with scooped-out 
hearty scooped-out brain. 

She was glad for the first time in her life of meal-times^ she 
cared for the food. She would wonder with anticipating relish 
what the old aunt would make for her next, gnocchi, cappelletti, 
lasagne, risotto, and be pleased that Battistina and Bianca and 
Palmira, all, should take an interest in catering to this newly 
developed case of '^ throat/' gola, their name as well as Dante's 
for gluttony. Eemarking to herself upon this novel condition, 
she judged that the material side of her nature bad come into 
prominence because the counterbalancing side, composed of 
spirit, emotions, was suffering from a fatigue amounting to 
paralysis. What if this were never to pass? . . . And the lace- 
trade? . . . Well, there were worse fates than spending one's 
days in santa pace at Villa Clelia, with enough to eat and drink 
and wear, and everything combining to make one drowsy. 

She would ask at the end of dinner for a little of the white 
wine from their own vines. The babbo for once or twice felt 
it flattering, he beamed over the compliment as he handed the 
key to Bianca. But after a few times more he said, with a 
significant frown to Bianca behind Camilla's back, that he was 
very sorry, but the wine was finished. There had been but 
little, and there was no more. 

'^ Have a drop of rosolio, instead," suggested Bianca, solicit- 
ously. 

In a loose white cotton jacket of her sister's Camilla lounged 
about the house, or out in the arbor. If a visitor came, she 
vanished, and declined to be seen. Bianca would occasionally 
get out of her own white cotton jacket, put on a street-dress, 
snug though not small in the waist, a large black hat and her 



358 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

beet earringSy to go and make purchases down in Florence. Ca- 
milla, always prised to come, always refused, but awaited the 
return with a certain interest. Bianca always had so much 
to tell, and gossip, ever the spice of life, was in these days its 
sole condiment. 

** You will never guess whom I saw to-day ! ** Bianca brought 
home one afternoon, along with the pound of stracchino for 
the table, the new supply of lace-braid for herself, the botUe of 
acqua antisterica for Camilla's headache, et altra. ^ You can- 
not have forgotten that Oreste Pezzanti on whose account so 
many tears were shed in our house, and so much bad blood was 
made? No, I thought not. I saw his wife. I often pass her 
in the street. And, cara mia, for any grand prize he was to 
draw in that lottery he might as well have had me! I think 
I may say it. For look at me, after all, I am healthy, am I 
not? A btuma pasta, am I not? I laugh and like to see others 
laughing. While the woman he got — dried up, nervous, biz- 
zosa, and never has got over the idea, it seems, that she was 
too good for him. They have an only child, a son of eighteen 
or so, who takes entirely after the mother. She was a Miss 
Pratesi, you remember, and brought a fine dowry. Her father 
was a manufacturer in large of agricultural implements, and she 
has never shown herself like one of the family to the Pezzanti. 
Yes, the old people are both alive. I go into the shop some- 
times and see him there, at the cash-desk, where he likes to 
sit and make change. He remembers me perfectly and I hope 
makes his reflections. Ah, Camilla, what I suffered in those 
days, over that disappointment, you never knew! You had 
troubles enough of your own. Not so much the mortification, 
no, but the feeling that such a beautiful thing might have 
happened as that we should become sposi, and that then it 
did n't ! ... He was a hel giovane in those days. Now, when 
I look at him, — I see him sometimes, though he never sees me,— 
I am consoled ! *' As if the tang of cynicism about this last 
falling on the ears of her heart roused a protest there, she 
added, more sincerely, " Of course if we had married it would 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 353 

have made no difference to me that he should grow ugly and 
fat. I mean, no difference in my affection/' 

In their long hours of desultory chat^ Camilla learned as 
much as Bianca knew about her acquaintances of the old days. 
La Ellere had gone back to Germany. There had been an out- 
break of diphtheria in her school^ and one of the internes^ far 
from home and mother^ had died. This had taken the heart 
so completely out of Sophie that she had given up her occupation 
of insiUutrice. She had made money, and she was growing old, 
it was time. The Institut had been converted into a pension, and 
it appeared that Mademoiselle treated her boarders like pupils, 
commanding and scolding them, and the Americans and English 
would not put up with it. So, before it had impoverished her, 
she wisely gave up the pension and withdrew to vague parts 
of her native land. Camilla was not sorry to think there 
would be no danger more of meeting her in the streets of 
Florence. 

And the Orlandi? Dead, Bianca believed. And Oraziani? 
Dead, and was given a fine funeral. And the prior ef Dead, 
blessed soid. He had continued to come to see them once a 
year, then, a few years back, had not come, and notice had 
reached them of his death at Fonte Buona. From Fonte Buona 
had also come the news — quite long ago, it was, — of Enzo 
Mari's death, caught with his men in an ambush and killed in 
Abyssinia. 

Bianca would have liked immensely that Camilla should talk 
a great deal too. She burned to be made acquainted with 
every detail of that brilliant life in Paris and other magnificent 
places. Particularly she wished to hear about the new husband. 

But her hinting, her bringing up the subject, profited her 
nothing. Camilla would allude to events^ would touch upon 
this and that, something dribbled out, but to a good old- 
fashioned unbosoming of herself she could not by any art be 
led. And Bianca, whom delicacy would perhaps not have 
restrained from the direct asking of questions, was kept from 
them by the never quite outgrown fear of her elder. 



354 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" Pazienza! " she comforted herself. "It will all come out 
gradually, it cannot help but do so, living together as we shall 
be for a long time/* 

More strange than anything else it seemed to her that no 
letter should come for Camilla from her husband, and that 
none should go from her to him. Bianca exercised her brain 
a great deal over this. 

And still Camilla did nothing to shake off her apathy, but 
allowed the hours to creep unimproved from meal to meal, from 
sleep to sleep, strange case of a person whose future lay in 
dense fog, and whose past was made unreal, even improbable, 
by the different position from which it was viewed. She let 
be. Something at the back of her head knew that this would 
not last forever. 

It was Mariuccia who, getting ahead of Bianca, brought up 
to Camilla's room one morning, running and skipping, a news- 
paper snatched from the postman, and begged the Bussian 
stamp for her collection. 

Camilla, after sending her away with that prize, unfolded 
the paper, found the marked passage, and as she read a pleasant 
notice of the tenor De Segovia's performance of Faust at Saint 
Petersburg, felt the dream-state melting away. She locked her 
door, got feebly back into bed, to be soid-sick there at her ease. 

Such memories of passionate conflict, sanguinary quarrels, 
cruelties of love, brutalities, disgusts, rages, and despairs, 
crowded upon her, thick and dreadful, that it seemed to her 
impossible she should have lived through those excitements, 
when only to think of them now unnerved her. . . . 

And she had been that strong woman who bore up under 
all, who kept up the effort, and who quite sincerely at the 
last moment, when the two parts of an ill-assorted couple 
crushed each other in a farewell embrace, each of them tattered 
and bleeding from the other's good mercies, had uttered to 
cheer them both the confident hope that they would soon be 
together again! . . . She had told Bianca in good faith that 
she meant to go back to him as soon as she could ! 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA ?56 

Poor boy, he must, in his far-oflf city, among strangers, be 
just as tired as she, perhaps more tired, more smarting, for 
the whip after all had been in her hands. His violences had 
been revolt, self-defense, retaliation. He must shrink from 
the remembrance of her no less than she did from the thought 
of him, and suffering from the same reaction be thankful for 
a long absence to heal his nerves. Under those circumstances, 
how could he write? Their relation had been too sincere 
fundamentally to permit of superficial perfunctory letters be- 
tween them — for yet a while, and anything natural, spontaneous, 
would have led to retrospect, and, inevitably, further quarreling, 
on paper, than which nothing could have been more horrible 
to either. So he sent a newspaper, just to give sign of life, 
and beg for a sign of life from her. 

She found among the accumidated Corrieri della Sera one 
containing an account of the opening of a horticultural ex- 
hibition, graced by the presence of several social stars. She 
marked the column to signify that she had been present also, and 
sent it to Saint Petersburg. Manuel knew a little operatic 
Italian. 

Bianca picking up the Bussian journal was depressed to find 
that she could not make out one word of it, not one. 



CHAPTER III 

ONE morning, three or four weeks from the night of her 
arrival, Camilla, as soon as she woke, knew, from her 
humor and the different aspect all wore to her eyes^ that the 
end of a phase had been reached. 

That same day, she caught Palmira, put a broom in her 
hands, and led her, as it were by the ear, to the dark comers 
which she desired to see kept free from grime. 

She said to Bianca, ^^ Either the flowers in the yase must be 
fresh, or there must be no flowers. Throw out those stagnant 
yellowed stalks!^' Bianca must see to it besides that Aunt 
Battistina wore a cap when she cooked, a cap like a bathing 
cap. 

After scolding Mariuccia and sending her from the room, 
" Bianca,** spoke Camilla to her sister, " how have you brought 
up that child 1 She cannot open her mouth without lying. 
It is out and out shameful, the quantity of lies that child 
tells. Never in fact does she speak the truth. A lie, I will 
admit, is occasionally necessary. I could never agree with 
certain English whom I have heard discussing the subject, who 
say no, one must under no circumstance lie ... I have my- 
self lied. I have lied however the least I could, and, of this be 
sure, I never told a useless one I But Mariuccia, — little pett^ 
gola! — it is with her a regular vice!** 

At dinner she found the babbo getting dangerously on her 

nerves. Comilfd! . . . When he used that favorite expression, 

when he bade Mariuccia stop biting her nails at the table, it 

was not comilfd, and turned to his princess daughter for cor- 

356 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 367 

roboration from her large habit of the best people^ she with 
a sweep of her eyes brushed him away like a gnat-fly. 

Against Birilli there was nothing to say. That daintily sil- 
houetted bit of the Original N'ight was discretion itself. He 
came and went like a shadow mounted on a dog's outfit of pat- 
tering toenails. His tightly curling coal-black hairs did not 
come off, or if they did were not visible. He scratched himself 
in a modest muflSed way. Impossible to object to Birilli. Diffi- 
cult in fact not to soften, when upon a word of conmiand to smile 
there flashed from his black muzzle the white gleam of teeth. 
But Bianca's voice when they romped outside ! " Td, Birillino, 
prendi Vossino! Vieni BiriiK, si va a spassino! Qui, Birilli, 
qui, svbiio, o tu ne buschi!" Bianca, that uncompromising 
becera of her own immediate blood ! It was refined torture. 

" I must get out of this hole ! ** she said, with a look of dis- 
like around the room, which seemed to her to-day so cheap, so 
ugly. ^^Yes, something I must do to pull myself out of this 
hole ! '' 

She returned to Bianca with thanks the white cotton jacket. 
She put on her severe and stylish black suit, made herself of 
the neatness symbolized by four pins, and went to town, declin- 
ing Bianca's company. 

She visited lace-shops. 

Gradually, in various ezcursions, she visited all the lace- 
shops in the city, meeting everywhere with the courteous atten- 
tion due to a promising customer, patently a fine lady, with a 
remarkably amiable smile and an engaging way that led you 
on to chatter. At the negozio of her final choice, after order- 
ing certain laces of a particular pattern, and shapes out of 
the ordinary, she won permission to visit the work-shop where 
these were in process of making. 

" We must ourselves learn to make lace,** Camilla announced 
to Bianca. 

A pallid woman with Botticelli hands gave them lessons. 

Camilla contrived by her own example to make all in the 



868 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

house think it fascinating work. Battistina^ with her old 
disposition to serve^ sat herself down with cushion and bobbins 
slowly to produce a coarse kind of braid. At this period she 
resumed her habit of sighing. Mariuccia, too^ made braid, with 
much finer thread ; a certain stint was set for her after school. 
Aunt Bianca if she did well rewarded her with something 
sweety Aunt Camilla if she did badly scolded her. 

" It is well for her to learn a trade young/' all agreed. 

In her examination of laces Camilla had observed that the 
articles for personal wear^ the collars, the capes, the fronts, 
were of clumsy shapes, ill-adapted to fit any elegant figure. 
There was great room for improvement in this particidar. It 
seemed to her also that much more imagination, fancy, might 
be used in the designs. She took to frequenting picture-gal- 
leries, armed with pencil and pad, and copied patterns from 
the borders of Madonnas' mantles and veils by old masters, know- 
ing just the type of foreigner to whom that sort of thing would 
appeal. 

She got her hand on a few experienced lace-makers, and 
turned the little orange-house into a work-room. Then she 
visited pensions, and made interest with the managers of these. 
When Madame de Segovia could sit down and talk with a person, 
she was almost certain to convince. She had not lived in the 
world so long for nothing, her manner had that in it which 
made most people desire, rather than not, to do as she asked, 
and ennoble themselves by a reflected gleam. 

It was known that hers was a romantic history. Camilla 
had in all the days of her greatness shunned Florence, not 
caring that the princess should be remembered as the Bugiani. 
But when she returned where she was remembered as the 
Bugiani, there was a certain alleviation to her chagrin in the 
consciousness that most people knew she had been a princess. 
When with her own clever hands she took measurements, or 
tried on a finished article, and intimated the flattering things 
to be gathered from the fact that she did this herself instead 
of assigning the task to an underling, her customer, if she were 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 359 

a young American, felt duly flattered. And Camilla with in- 
finite tact^ joined to admirable boldness, adapted her prices to 
the frame of mind of her customer. It was her pride in every 
case that her wares shoidd be perfect. 

From a dress-maker of some pretensions with whom her 
present trade had thrown her, she in time subrented a room, 
artfully arranging this so that the elegant show-place, which 
betrayed by no sign that it was intended for any other use, 
could at need become her bedroom, when bad weather, or ill- 
humor, or any other chance, disinclined her to return for the 
night to Villa Clelia. 

Camilla had determined to succeed, to supplant others, to 
enrich herself. In attending strictly to this matter of mak- 
ing things march, she became for a period an absorbed business 
woman, cutting off more and more of the amenities of life, 
precisely because, true to herself still, she valued these so highly, 
and had her hopes fixed on a place ahead where they could be 
enjoyed the sooner the harder she now worked. 

She made headway, certainly, but in proportion to her dream 
and her ambition, how little and how slowly ! Too many were 
employed in the same commerce, competition was too keen, a 
person needed to have some measurable advantage over the 
others in order to gain advantage of the final, permanent sort. 
And without capital what could one do? 

" It will take me ten or fifteen years to get anjnirhere, creep- 
ing along at this rate,'' she said to herself, " and in ten years 
I shall be old. In ten years the good part of my life will 
be over. What will anything matter to me in ten years?'* 

In this mood she scolded the lace-makers, righteously in- 
dignant at the half-heartedness with which all people, except 
herself, worked when it was for others; she scolded the servant, 
she scolded Bianca and Mariuccia, and when not scolding was 
gloomily taciturn. The line between her beautiful eyebrows 
deepened, and the lines beneath her eyes. Her mouth was pale, 
find she neglected to tint it, too preoccupied to care. 



860 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

*^ Capital, I must have capital I If I am not to go on slaving 
like this for ten years more before I see the fruits of my toil, 
I must expand, have more accommodation, more workers, more 
reclame. My profits must be multiplied. Insomma, I must 
have capital. Capital, but how ? " 

When she stopped to think of the waste of her big fortune, 
she could have poisoned the person responsible for it, had 
this not been the one person who could be useful to her now. 
But even herself she cursed. The little hotel in the faubourg, 
the best affair she had ever concluded, bought of a ruined 
family for a song, restored and intended for sale with mammoth 
profit when the right occasion should arise . . . And then sold 
a second time for a song, literally a song, ... of Manuel's 
singing I 

And all Mrs. Northmere's clever and careful investments, 
which her heir had religiously let be as she left them, and 
seen them increase in value, — the good safe stocks, the interest 
in a gold mine, the first mortgages • • . Blown to the four 
winds of heaven, all of it! Was it not enough to make you 
gnaw your knuckles, like Count Ugolino in the Tower of Hunger! 

Nothing left! Nothing but the isolated sum on the income 
of which the family lived. Camilla had kept this in her own 
name, to secure it from any foolishness on the part of those 
whom she intended to enjoy it durably. In a sense it belonged 
to her now. 

As of t^i as the thought whispered that there was the capital 
after all which she needed, she put it away. It was true that 
the lace-trade, at the point to which she had abeady brought it, 
would keep them all from day to day, and she believed she 
could count on the business improving steadily. The family 
would in the end, if all went well, lose nothing whatever. But 
there it was, — ^^ if all went well I /' If God gave life, health, op- 
portunity. The element of risk was there, and it frightened 
her. She had taken a mighty risk too recently. 

In the pink house with green blinds, from which much of 
its gaiety had departed, those who watched the one who was 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 361 

actually mistress there now, to see from the comer of the eye 
in what humor she were, could not know how much of her 
irritability was a form of sadness, sadness over them, as the 
necessities of the situation pressed her more and more sharply. 

To jeopardize that bit of money which had made them all 
so comfortable, so content I To endanger that happiness which 
had been her work, the most heart-satisfying piece of work, be- 
yond a doubt, that she had done in her life. All the rest 
had melted away, this alone remained. Aimt Battistina was 
an old woman, Mariuccia was a child. Antenore was a fool, 
what could he ever do now except lament, if his support came 
to fail? And there was Bianca, who had had so little in her 
life. Poor Bianca, so affectionately patient under fault-finding, 
so faithful in helping according to her capacity. Face the 
possibility of depriving Bianca of her beloved Villa Clelia? 
No, she could not do it. No use thinking of it, she could 
not do it. 

Then she must go on, year after year, with this grinding, 
anxious toil, while her beauty faded, her spirit died I And her 
final arrival at the top of the ascent would see her past the 
power to enjoy, the power to compel the tribute of admiration. 
. . . No, no, she could not do it. How could she? 

'^ I shall have to make up my mind to it. The plunge must 
be taken. My nerves are too much imder the impression of that 
last failure. Then, I was in love. I was sublimely foolhardy. 
Now I am sane and cool, I know what I am about. The out- 
come would be different. The courage I must find.'* 

These things she said, and these things she resolved. But the 
carrying out of her resolve she put off, and then still put it off. 



CHAPTEB IV 

''111 THAT was your aunt doing when you went to her 

VV room with the post?'* Bianca inquired of Mariuccia 

one morning when, at ten o'clock^ Camilla had^ most unusually, 

not come down. ^'Was she still in bed? Had she taken her 

coffee? Could one suppose that she felt ill?*' 

*^No. She was up. She was at the basin brushing her 
finger nails.*' 

Bianca went into the kitchen, to question Palmira's suc- 
cessor. ^^ !N^arcisa, have you been upstairs in the Signora Ca- 
milla's room to make the bed?" 

"I went up, but the bed, I have not made it. When I 
knocked, the signora commanded me from inside to come later." 

Bianca looked blankly through the woman at something in- 
visible beyond, turned and climbed the stairs to Camilla. With- 
out knocking, she was entering, — there is this good thing about 
a sister, which makes her different from another friend, she 
cannot be held in respect beyond a certain point. As the door 
resisted, Bianca pushed harder, to discover that it was locked. 
She stopped a moment to consider, then, after tapping and 
listening, asked, " Camilla, what is there? Che c'ef" 

" It is you, Bianca ? " 

" Yes. Let me in." 

There was a silence inside. 

" Do you feel ill ? " Bianca pursued. " Do you want some- 
thing? What has happened?" 

She heard footsteps. The key turned in the lock, and as she 
opened she saw the back of Camilla, half-dressed, retreating 

362 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 363 

toward the unmade bed, from which she had apparently just 
risen. Camilla laid herself down and pressed her face into the 
pillow. Bianca looked at her in astonishment and dismay, then 
rolled a swift eye for signs, an explanation. Prom under the 
pillow projected a handglass, on the sheet lay a letter. 
" You have been crying ! You have been crying, Camilla ! '' 
" As you can see.'* 

"But Camillucda mia, what have you to cry over? What 
is the matter? You have received bad news?*' 
" No ... I have not received bad news.'* 
"Heart of mine, my dear treasure, let nothing grieve you! 
There 's Bianca tua who loves you a whole world ! " She knelt 
by the bed, blinking tears, with great difficulty and singular 
tact keeping hands oflf her sister, who at the note of sympathy 
had helplessly covered her face and abandoned herself to fresh 
weakness. 

*^It is this letter?'* breathed Bianca. She took it up. 

'^ French." She turned it about. " Manuel, I see. It is from 

your husband ... No misfortune has befallen him, I hope?** 

*^No. No . . .** Camilla tried to steady her voice. "He 

wants me to come back.** 

*^He wants you to come back? Then, Camilla — ^** Bianca 
brightened, like a person who hits upon the word of a riddle, 
**if you love him so much that you can weep like that over 
his letter, why don't you go? Why don't you follow the voice 
of your heart and fly to him ? " 

Camilla for all reply wept harder. So unprecedented was 
such an exhibition, that Bianca wrung her hands at the sight, 
and felt her heart wrung by the desperate impotence to help. 

^^And I," she spoke palely, "I had been thinking all this 
while that you didn't care about each other any longer. I 
had observed that you hardly ever wrote. A newspaper from 
him now and then, now and then one from you to him, very 
seldom a letter. I could not understand." 

*' I wished to forget him," Camilla brought out, unevenly, 
and he, in the same way, I thought, wished to forget me. I 



c< 



364 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

thought we should each go his own way and incommode each 
other no more, both content to let the other do as he pleased so 
long as he remained afar and made no daim. We had hurt each 
other too much^ and each of us dreaded to be together for fear 
it might all begin over again. Both of us by nature loved peace, 
abhorred battle, and yet we had to fight . . •" She had checked 
her tears, and with restless fingers was pulling the hem of her 
handkerchief this way and thai 

"But — but why?" asked Bianca, in natural amazement, 
"when you loved each other so much?*' 

"Exactly because of that, my dear. And because of the 
great difference in our temperaments, and, I suppose, because 
of a great lack of philosophy. It is difficult to be philosophical 
when your money is dwindling as if all the sharks in the sea 
were on a wager to see how fast they could eat it." 

" And all this whUe . . ." 

" All this while I have been glad to find that work took up 
my thoughts. You can't have your head full of practical mat- 
ters, be occupied from early morning to late night, coming, 
going, laying yourself in four to earn a few francs, and not 
have your heart heal up and harden." 

" And yet you could weep as I found you doing ! " 

"Yes. His letter blotted out the last two years and took 
me back to our good days . • ." Camilla again pressed her 
handkerchief to her eyes and cried, but more gently than be- 
fore. 

" He loved you very much? " asked Bianca under breath, with 
the double object of doing her sister good by inducing her to 
ease her bosom, and also good to herself by satisfying an in- 
genuous, tormenting curiosity. 

"Madly. Madly!" tearfully sighed Camilla, so oppressed 
at heart that she could find a low-minded comfort in talking 
off some of her misery. "And I him, in the same way. I 
never felt for any man what I felt for him. We were so happy, 
so impossibly happy, for a while. Not one cloud in our sky. 
We knew nothing whatever of each other, as time proved, but 



N 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 366 

we knew that to be together was all we cared about. ... In 
the morning, there at Amalfi, I would get up early, early, to 
make myself beautiful before he saw me. He slept late, a habit 
of his profession. I would come into the big airy dark room 
with a basket of fruit, all fresh, fresh among the fresh vine- 
leaves. I would let in a little light, and wake him by pressing 
cool cherries or peaches against his mouth. People are not 
often very inviting the moment they wake up, or very good- 
tempered, but he was, he is so young. ... He would smile Uke 
a sleepy boy before opening his eyes, and reach for me, and 
draw me down to him. I made myself difficult to bend, but 
he is so strong I Then I would sit on the edge of the bed, and 
we would eat the fruit, and laugh together, just like chil- 
dren, laugh! . . .'* 

*'And what then could bring about the change? . . .*' 

Camilla stopped to consider, as if this question had never be- 
fore been asked. '^Time. I suppose it was that. Time, 
life. The natural course of things. I never was easy inside, 
you see, because I knew myself to be secretly so much older 
than he, and it has been said so much that men will tire of 
older women that one ends by believing it, even if it should 
not be true. I felt that he ought to have some occupation 
besides making love to me. My good sense said, ^This is all 
very well, but what of the future? We can't spend all our 
lives in Amalfi, like this.' It would give too dangerous op- 
portunity for him gradually to see me with unblinded eyes, 
and perhaps weary of me. Then, for myself, too, I have al- 
ways needed the world, a life outside of the house. As princess 
I had all I wanted. But as the wife of a singer, not very 
celebrated, and who had ceased altogether to sing or be talked 
about, what would my place be in society? But if he made 
a name, his glory would be my glory, we should have a life. 
The beginning of our disaccord came when I realized to what 
point he was constitutionally lazy.'* 

" He was lazy, you say ? '^ 

"Call it indolent, if you prefer. Perhaps it is the trait of 



366 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

a Cuban. I know not. But me, you know how I am, Bianca, 
always doing this or that, going somewhere, accomplishing 
something. He could sit the whole day, smoking cigarettes, do- 
ing nothing, hardly even taking the pains to look over the 
French picture papers. The only thing he cared about which 
involved any exertion was fencing. I am sure I don't know 
how it was he cared for that I As for his art, he would never 
from choice have sung another note, I think, after we married. 
Imagine how all this, alia lunga, was calculated to affect me! 
His indolence got on my nerves, of course. He was willing 
enough to do what would please me. I would sit down at the 
piano and play to make him sing. He would sing. But it 
was like stretching a thing of caoutchouc. Tou let go and 
it returns to its old shape." 

^' But there at Montecarlo he was making good success when 
first you knew him?" 

'^ Tes, for a man so young he had gained an excellent stand- 
ing. When forced to work, he could do it. He had everything, 
it seemed to me, really everything to make possible a magnificent 
career. He only had no ambition. Well, but I had that. As I 
thought of all the tenors I had heard and seen, it seemed to 
me he surpassed them all. Voice, presence ... I was en- 
amored, Bianca I But making allowances for that, I cannot 
think even now how it was he had not more magnetism for 
the public . . ." 

" He had not magnetism for the public ? " 

^^The devil was in it, Bianca! He is having excellent 
success now. The papers he sends praise him. There is no 
evidence that he has not magnetism for the public ... The 
devil was in it I I shall never imderstand how it all happened. 
When I let myself think of it, the blood boils in my brain, I 
feel myself going furious mad, just as I used to feel in 
those days when we were losing money night by night, as a 
sieve lets out water I" 

'' Don't thiiik of it, don't speak of it I " 

^^What I did seemed at the time so reasonable. I had no 



THE TBXTTH ABOUT CAMILLA 367 

suspicion that I was acting like a fool fit for the strait- 
jacket. You see, when I had understood that it would not do 
to spend our days like two turtledoves in a green grove, I 
understood also that I could not have my husband take an 
ordinary scrittura here, then another there, at a few thousand 
francs, and I follow him about like a little dog or an obscure 
wife, and have for my whole world that little world of the 
opera troupe. We must do something in large, something 
splendid, worthy of us and the name we meant to make. My 
husband could not stand at the orders of a common impresario. 
He must if anything be the impresario himself .^^ 

'^Ahil'' 

^^Yes. But I was used to good luck. For years I had 
had nothing else. That was my destruction. Once, Bianca, 
at the tables in Montecarlo, I for eight or ten times running 
divined the color or the number that would come out, and in 
less than ten minutes had won t^i thousand francs. That was 
my ruin. I cannot describe the feeling I had while I was 
doing that miraculous thing, the sense of inspiration, the cer* 
tainty of the outcome. Well, I had that same feeling pre- 
cisely when the bold thought first came to me of making 
Manuel an impresario and taking a great company traveling 
over his own country. I was just as sure of the outcome. I 
was intoxicated by my own daring; I was on fibre with the idea 
of the big enterprise. Oh, if one could get at the devil and 
strangle him with one's two hands I . . .'* 

'^With your great capacity for affairs, it ought to have suc- 
ceeded. It was the devil, certainly.'* 

^^ Manuel was only nominally the head, he really had nothing 
to do with it whatever. I took with me for greater security 
an experienced business man, who should have been able to 
safeguard us. He proved, however, to be a thief and scoundrel. 
I have no mean head for business myself. What pertains to 
two and two makes four, to values, profits, I have always grasped. 
I have in me a streak of the shopkeeper, Constantine always 
said so. But in this case, turned into a fool by being in love. 



368 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

I expected two and two to make five. I deceived myself on 
his capacity as a singer, and on mine as a manager/' 

^ Wliat a pity, Dio mio, that all could not have gone as yon 
hopedl** 

** Ton can see the effect on us two, can you not, of the failure 
after failure, I thinking it was his fault because he did not 
sing better, because he preserved his grand indifference on the 
stage, and had no magnetism, — he angry with me for blaming 
him when it was my fault, my folly, I had put him in that 
position, he was as he was and could not change himself. It 
was true, but it only made me more furious. It seemed to 
me that if he would exert himself a little supematurally . . . 
Can you imagine the despair of feeling yourself caught in a 
machine with wheels that are not going to let you free until 
every penny of your money and every shred of pride have been 
torn from you? What becomes of your serenity, your good 
humor, the amiability for which you were famous, even yonr 
justice, your good sense? We would sometimes quarrel all, all 
night. I would not let him sleep. I would drive him to the 
point where he was ready to jump out of the window to escape 
from my tongue. And with all this, Bianca, our passion for 
each other was not diminished. Only it made us cruel. To 
torment him in the surest manner I could invent, I had the 
happy inspiration once to make him jealous. I did not repeat 
that trick, he frightened me so. One thing I can say : he would 
have liked oftentimes to kill me> sometimes even to beat me, 
but he was not weary of me when we parted. Hardly! . . . 
' Diane,' he said on the last night, and he said it with tears, 
'how can we bear to leave each other? Let us die, rather, in 
each other's arms, here and now, and laugh at destiny. Ha?e 
you the courage? Die with me, Diane!'" 

'' Diane,— what is that ? " 

''His name for me. I never really knew why. I think it 
was because he had heard Constantino call me Camilla. His 
jealousy took such curious forms. He could be of an exquisite 
tenderness, poor Manuelito ! " 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 369 

'^Tell me a little what he writes you in this long French 
letter/' 

^^ He wishes me to go back to him. He is at Montecarlo again 
with the MorpurgO; like three years ago. And he has a contract 
in prospect for next season in New York, when he will receive 
four thousand francs every time he sings, and he is assured of 
singing once, sometimes twice a week, the season lasting 
twenty weeks. A little fortime, he will earn. And it will only 
be the first of many such engagements, he hopes.'' 

^^But, Camilla, this is magnificent! Magnificent I" Bianca 
brightened again to a radiance of sympathy. " You will go with 
him to New York, that splendid capital, and be rich once more. 
His success will make you also glorious. As you will be earn- 
ing, not losing, money, there will be nothing to quarrel about, 
on the contrary, and you will return to be turtledoves as at 
first!" 

Camilla did not answer. She had sadly drawn the little 
mirror from under her pillow and was looking at herself. 

*^ The affairs here must not be allowed to delay you in joining 
him," Bianca continued encouragingly, ^^ all this bother of lace- 
making, with the thousand pensieri, the responsibilities, the uggia. 
Madonna mia/ can very well be given up. We had plenty to 
live on in great contentment before, and the same will be 
more than su£Scient now again. All that we folks have ever 
cared for in the matter of this lace-business has been to do 
what would please you." 

Camilla was not heeding, but staring into the glass at her 
own green eyes galled with tears. The premonitory signs of 
weeping ruffled her face from brow to chin, like a pool imder 
sudden wind. Letting the mirror drop, she covered the dis- 
figuring spasm with both hands, and tried to choke back the 
harsh sounds which were forcing their way past her lips. 

'^ But Camilla, what have you to weep about, when all is going 
to be so happy for you? " asked Bianca, in immense perturbation. 

Camilla shook her head, and losing the last control over her 
throat, sobbed heavily. 



370 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

** Go away ! *^ she managed to whisper, between heart-shaking 
sobs. 

" But how can I ? '* Bianca wailed^ " and leave you like this? 
Camilluccia, weep not! Hush, now, hush! Zitta, ma zittal 
You will see, all after this will be so pleasant, so sweet I You 
will both have learned not to do as you did before. You will 
forgive each other everything, and begin anew. It will be 
Paradise ! *' 

" For the love of God, keep still I ^* burst from Camilla, in 
a scream of exasperation. 

Bianca sucked in her lips and held her hands over them, 
watching her sister with a bewildered stare. 

The frightened silence heard Camilla's sorrow spend it- 
self. 

She sat up on the bed finally, and dried her eyes. " I can't 
go back to him,'* she said definitively, with her hardly conquered 
composure, "I am too changed.'* 

** What do you mean? " 

" It would be no use now lying about my age. The first sight 
of me would be a shock to him. I could n't stand it." Feeling 
her face tremble again, she jumped up and refusing to be further 
pathetic moved about the room to head off the return of tears. 
She picked up a towel and mechanically dusted the top of a 
box on the bureau. 

^' A shock? . . . Your face? . . ." 

'* It is not yet two years since I left him, it seems ten, my 
face shows ten. Time, that I circumvented so long, has caught 
up with me. The anxieties, the hard work, — you know whether 
I have spared myself ! — and then the neglect of all those things 
that help to keep a woman young. Had I the time to care? 
I am nearly forty-six, and I look it. He is not thirty-one." 

" But, Camilla, that fact, it seems to me, as long as he loves 
you . . ." 

^^No. No. He loved me when he thought me the most 
beautiful woman in the world conferring a priceless favor on 
him. If I had remained with him I might have continued to 



T^HE TEXTTH ABOUT CAMILLA 371 

impose the illusion, who knows for how long? But after this 
interval the truth would strike him in the first glance/' 

''But since he has been so fond of you, and you are his 
wife . . /* 

''Tou think I would accept that situation?" Camilla was 
taking pins out of the pin-cushion and with nervous fingers 
stabbing them viciously back, *' You think I would let myself be 
the one who loved most ? The one who kissed while the other 
tendered the cheek? !N^o, Bianca, you do not know me. In such 
a relation I must be the one, I, always, who has the advantage. 
I will 'endure nothing else . . ." She shook her head like a 
horse fiapping his blinders. The hand that had made the 
gesture of discarding an absurd proposal on the last word be- 
came a fist. 

''But what tells you, Gamilluccia, that he would not love 
you as much as ever? Is it beauty only, after all, which 
counts?'* 

Camilla dropped limply on a chair, and sighed. "I know 
men!'' She meditated upon the bitter subject a minute in 
silence, then shook her head darkly, " The nature of man I do 
not trust ! " 

" I should have believed," Bianca ventured with some timidity, 
humble zitella talking of matters outside her experience, " that 
two living together might grow from day to day more attached, 
without regard to changes in the person. My idea of marriage 
would be that two came to understand and compassionate each 
other's faults and infirmities, and to feel it their responsibility 
that this being of their choice, or others' choosing for them, 
the one insomma who was their share, should be saved as much 
as possible the disappointments of life. That they might grow 
old knowing that one person at least saw their wrinkles with 
sympathy." 

"Bianca, you are talking of a different thing. You are 
thinking of family affection, not of love like ours. We did not 
begin right for such a termination. — I, it is true," she con- 
tinued after a thoughtful pause, with a little sigh, sincere as 



372 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Bimple, ^'I am like you. I am by nature faithful. I could 
continue attached at heart to the same one through everything, 
iUness, change . • . But Manuel^ I dare not trust him. His 
love I only know as the love of a strong and ardent young 
man for the woman who has the gift most of creating thirst 
for love in him^ and then calming without extinguishing it. 
Perhaps he too, under all that, is capable of the other kind, the 
tranquil, the lasting • . . Who knows? But I dare not trust 
him. I know him only as an infatuated and jealous lover. 
If he should show by a sign that he had had enough of me . . ." 
She rose, without finishing the sentence, and, as she stood, 
gathered back into her bearing all the effect of pride which 
her surrender to grief had temporarily washed away. 

^'For the one time in my life when I did not see things 
as they were I paid dearly enough in all truth to remember 
the lesson," she finally said. Her eyes were dry and once more 
brilliant. '^In this case, I intend to see them as they are." 
She leaned on the chest of drawers and looked squarely into 
the glass surmounting it. Mrs. !N^orthmere and Boss Brady 
from their photograph looked at her, in underskirt and corset- 
cover, gazing at ^^ tbdngs,'' and at herself, with eyes determined 
to see true. 

^^ It is not so much that my beauty is in some measure faded, 
Bianca. With care and art that might be remedied. There is 
freshness, of a kind, to which one can still attain at forty-six. 
Indoors, the curtains. Outdoors, the white veil. It is, Bianca, 
the fatigue I feel I The fatigue I . . ." Closing her eyes for a 
moment, she let her whole frame express it. "The fatigue!" 
she deeply exhaled. " These two years have taken so much of 
my life out of me. Something inside of me has come to an 
end. The thought of trying to keep up the appearance of 
youth, play the comedy of youth, day by day, hour by hour, 
minute by minute, to entertain the flame of love in a boy . . . 
fighting, fighting against time to retain the love of a foolish, 
passionate boy, and always with that fear upon me — eke 
smarm! — that fear of the younger, prettier women . . . Do- 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 373 

ing it with the certain knowledge that all must finally fail — 
for age is the one illness from which one recovers not, but 
grows worse and worse till the end — I have not the strength 
for it! No/^ she groaned, with a vast gesture of giving up, 
''I have not the strength for it!'' 



CHAPTEB V 

LATE at night, when all the house was still, Camilla sat 
down to answer her letter. 

She had cleared the table in her room and brought from the 
desk downstairs, where she expedited her ordinary clerical work, 
a bottle of violet ink, a quire of scented pearl-gray paper, a 
stick of golden sealing wax, and a little seal engraved with a 
carrier-dove above the motto, '' Vite!** 

She placed two lighted candles sjrmmetrically before her, 
like one fulfilling the forms of a rite, changed the pen in her 
pen-holder for a new one, tried the point on her thumb-nail, 
and squared her elbows, bracing herself. One does what one 
has to do. 

As soon as she began to think, she saw that this letter, to be 
perfectly effective, must be very carefully calculated, and ought 
to be worked up first au bromllon. She pushed aside the note- 
paper, and fetched a cheaper article, cross-lined, intended for 
accounts. 

Before beginning, she unfolded Manuel's letter, and very 
slowly reread it, for perhaps the tenth time, but for the first 
time with so much deliberation, such slow savoring and pene- 
trating herself with the particular flavor of its communications. 

" My beloved Diane,*' it ran. " Your last letter did not con- 
tain much to cheer a heart devoted to you, but I reflect that my 
own letter before it was hardly less wanting, and I know how 
little it represented my most inward heart. 

^* Since we parted, Diane, say to yourself that Manuel has not 
been Manuel. I hardly know how I have lived, caring for 

874 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 375 

nothing, interested in nothing, like a being nmnbed by a prema- 
ture winter of old age. I have worked, with few intervals of 
rest, and gained applause more than ever formerly, though I 
have eared for it even less. The things you hoped for me when 
they were as yet impossible are becoming more possible with 
every day. I will not say I have rejoiced over this for your 
sake, I have been too different from myself. I have been con- 
cerned, more than anything else, to pay back the money lent me 
by Sarti to help us get away from America. That excellent 
Sarti, do you know what warmth of friendship was signified 
by his act? Sarti, who carefully extinguishes his cigar, to light 
it again later. . . . Mercedes forbade me long ago to pay back 
the money we had from her. She would think, if I returned 
it, that I no longer loved her. We are reconciled, you see. It 
was her jealousy of you that made our quarrel, and yet she 
loves her brother so much that she has been in great despair over 
our separation. But why do I delay, writing all this? 

"Three weeks ago I was in Stockholm. There comes from 
Bachert by telegram the proposal to exchange tenors for the re- 
mainder of the season. They are at Montecarlo and wish to put 
on Faustina. It appears the illusion of the piece was destroyed 
by Signor Boschi, who sings however admirably. The duchess 
was frank in expressing her distaste for such a Cestius. I was 
not sorry to go, and make my peace. Sarti also was in the 
company, it was he who had pushed my interest. So I arrive in 
Montecarlo, the man whom I have described, with sensibilities 
frozen, heart asleep ... 

" And what awaits me there? The image of Diane meets me 
at every step, the memory of Diane fills all the air and turns me 
with every breath more into the old Manuel. I walk like one 
in a dream. On the cliff-road she comes toward me with her 
light tread, her floating veils and luminous smile ... At the 
theater, she bends in her splendor over the front of the box, I 
am in a fever with the sense of her beautiful eyes upon me . . . 
At the Casino she stands behind my shoulder, sweetly breathing, 
softly warm ... 



376 THE TKUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

^^ After midnight I slip into the dark garden which you re- 
member, and ait on the steps outside the glass-door that used to 
be your door, and agonize there over the thought of my lost hap- 
piness. 

** What should I finally do but engage for one night your old 
apartment? It is for the moment untenanted, and so differ- 
ent, so bare I But I see it as we remember. I conjure up in the 
mirror reflections of your face. I seek in the cushions some 
trace of your haunting perfumes. I lay myself down where yon 
haye lain . . . 

*^ And when I am suffering like the most pitiable widower, the 
thought comes in a ray of light, ^ But she is not dead ! Diane 
liyes, and is kind I ' And I remember all your sweetness, the 
tenderness you have shown me. I say to myself, * Though her 
love too has been obscured by sad fatalities, it is capable like 
your own of this rebirth. Love so mad could not so quickly 
diel' 

^^ I entreat you to forgive all in the past which displeased yon 
with me. I cannot think of those days, when I was not I, and 
you were not you, except as a tragical farce in which we were 
forced to play parts against our wills and natures by those 
envious demons of life who hate the spectacle of human hap- 
piness . . . Forget. Bemember only the heaven we have known 
together. Bemember our terrace at Amalfi, the white roses, the 
moon, the sea. 

*' Join me here, my dear wife. I enclose two thousand francs 
to facilitate haste. I know I am asking you to leave the ease 
and comfort of a well-ordered establishment, a luxurious life, for 
the inconveniences of a hotel and existence with a singer, but I 
summon up boldness to put forward the claim given to me by 
that little gold ring which you were so willing I should place 
on your hand three years ago. You shall see, my well-beloved, 
you will not repent this wifely obedience. 

" My coming to Montecarlo has had this other important resuli 
Irene and I have an offer for New York next season. Twenty 
weeks, eight hundred dollars a performance for me, one per- 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 377 

formance a week assured, and often two. Promise to come with 
me and I will accept. Yon can see yourself what the offer 
may mean. Year after year, New York, with its fabulous 
salaries. 

^^ I await in aching suspense a telegram from you : ' I arrive to- 
morrow at . . .* Diane, stop not to think 1 Follow the im- 
pulse of your heart and, trust to Manuel, you shall not regret 
having heeded that dear and warm counselor. I embrace you 
from head to foot, and appoint a rendezvous in the little draw- 
ing-room where I received from you the marvelous first kiss, and 
which you will find full of my flowers, as in those days I " 

Camilla could not keep back the tears, or restrain the im- 
pulse to place the letter against her lips and, closing her eyes, 
try to get the sense of Manuel's hand which had touched it all 
over. Weakened by this, she instead of preparing at once for 
the task before her, went to take from between flat folds of tissue- 
paper one full bronze curl, which she had long not cared to 
see . . . She kissed it with a moan. Inhaling it searchingly, 
she felt all her strength of character deserting . . • 

Why not do as he bade her, after all? Without stopping to 
think, follow the impulse of her heart? She permitted herself 
to. dream how it would be if she tossed a few things into a valise 
and took the next train. A sweet glowing seized her at thought 
of the first mad embrace . . . Her dream burst bubble-like 
against the atrocious thorn: But suppose he at first glance 
on the railway platform should not for a second be quite sure it 
was she? Should hesitate, or show surprise? 

As she wept herself out meditating upon it all — she had cried 
80 much since early morning that tears found easy passage-way, 
— she felt her wretched firmness returning, the desperate power 
to act, not as choosing a course, but as driven to bay and carry- 
ing out a hard resolution because there was no choice. 

She finally dipped her pen, and, conscious of herself as very 
like the Lady of the Camellias writing to Armand, started on her 
composition. 



378 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

^^ Your letter, my dear Manuel, was as unexpected as it was 
painful, and makes my answer to it very difficult. But the fact 
that I am returning the money will inform you from the first 
moment what my answer is, and make your suspense short 
Pray recognize in this and in all that I shidl write the desire to 
be kind. 

^ Since we parted, nearly two years have passed. One does not 
think of two years as a very long period, — to you, I understand, 
the time has appeared short, — but I Imow, I, that a thousand 
years spent in happiness could not be so long to the heart as one 
year spent in waiting. You write me now a letter f idl of loving 
protestations. Why did you leave me so long without a line? 
You did yourself great wrong, my friend, by that course. Day 
after day I thirsted, pined, prayed for a word. Finally I said 
to myself, ^This unrequited affection, which turns my life 
into a torment, and deprives me of dignity in my own eyes, I 
will, by the help of heaven and firmest determination, uproot.' 
And with all that perseverance of which you know me capa- 
ble I set myself to the work of destroying my attachment to 

you. 

"Your letter, Manuel, comes late, very much too late. I had 
succeeded some time ago. I discovered that in order to keep 
certain thoughts and memories from being importunate, one 
must fill existence with other thoughts, other interests. I have 
found again that peace and lightness of heart, those quiet nerves, 
that calm sleep, of which I had so little while with you. Be- 
lieve that I have learned to value them, and do not ask me to en- 
danger them again.*' 

(** Is it dry enough ? Is it heartless enough ? Is it calculated 
to deter him from all purpose of pursuing me further?" she 
asked herself, looking back over the page; and with a growing 
rage to make her work equal to its task, she increased the effort 
to be heinously convincing.) 

" I recognize the power you have by right of that little ring of 
which you opportunely remind me. But I know you will not 
use it, for my heart was all you sought in that bargain. I hope 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 379 

yon will not care for a more formal separation than actually ex- 
ists. If you will spare me any more publicity I shall be grate- 
ful. I know that in the world where you live such a bond as 
ties us is not found remarkably hampering^ and for myself, as I 
have no thought of new bonds, I do not require any more free- 
dom than I now enjoy. 

" I am grieved over the necessity to vn-ite you thus. I had 
thought that our intercourse would come to a gradual and natu- 
ral end. You sent me a newspaper, I sent you one. You wrote 
a few dry lines, I did the same, taking my tone from you, and 
supposed that these insignificant communications would be more 
and more far-spaced xmtil they altogether ceased. Blame me not 
that I reasoned as any sensible person would have done, and 
counted on your final complete silence and oblivion. 

*^ For your consolation, if my refusal should for a few hours 
disappoint you, let me tell you this : The love which only came 
back to life with your return to Montecarlo, will with your leav- 
ing Montecarlo once more cease to give the smallest trouble. 
After that, you have only to avoid Naples, and Amalfi . . . For 
your further consolation, reflect that if I were so mad as to be 
allured by the appeal of your open arms, in a short while it would 
be the old story over again. There would be quarrels, scenes, 
jealousies. I think it likely you would desire to kill me now for 
being so cold. . . . 

*^ And I, for such a life as I should lead with you, must leave 
all that I have here? A peaceful existence among my faithful 
dear ones, with the decencies and elegances to which I am accus- 
tomed. My private fortune went we know where, but that of my 
family is amply suflScient to ensure for me all I can want while I 
remain with them, added to all the consideration, the respect I 
could desire. 

*' Your uncertain and precarious lot would not frighten me as a 
fond lover, were I still that, — but as a wife, mere slave of the 
ring, whom you could compel to follow you, your New York has 
no charm, life between the opera house and the hotel little allure- 
ment.^' 



880 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Even as she wrote those words, it rose before her in a rainbow 
haze of memory, the great palace hotel in New York, which she 
remembered so well. She had a vision of herself and Manuel 
entering the vast dining-hall, all palms and crystal, sitting down 
opposite to each other at one of the little tables, as she and Mrs. 
Northmere had sat, and smiling to each other while they chatted 
of things pertaining to their phenomenal success • • • 

She was staring at the hand which held the pen. It forced it- 
self upon her consciousness through the dispelling d.eam. She 
realized that she could not without both time and trouble make it 
look again as it used to look, when Manuel cared so much to kiss 
it. 

She dug her fingernails suddenly into the wood of the table^ 
and showed her locked teeth to the bare whitewashed wall of the 
unbeautiful little room. She hated her hand, she hated her 
home, she hated the lace-trade. She loathed life . . . Mrs. 
Northmere and Boss Brady looking at her from their photograph 
could be thought to feel sorry for their Camilla. 

She picked up resolution again presently, and evolved the fol- 
lowing consistent winding up of her letter, feeling cruel toward 
the one on whose account she was suffering so much, desiring 
him to suffer too, desiring to be revenged on him for those 
potential wrongs the fear of which drove her to this cutting out 
of her own proud heart. 

" At the end of such a letter it is difficult to hope you will 
credit the assurance that I wish you infinitely well. I forgave 
you at the moment when I ceased to love. I count, however, 
upon your gratitude later, when the fine ardors and sentiments 
which you profess for me are utilized upon a new object, as — 
I see it from here ! — they soon will be. The fine ardors are 
the great thing, the object makes no serious difference. Manuel 
was formed for love and not for constancy.** 

*'Is that enough?** she asked savagely. ''Will that offend 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 381 

him enough to cut him oflf at one blow? . . . No, truly, I do not 
believe that Armand will give me any further trouble/^ 

In the chill small hours she sat copying fair these lucubrations^ 
in her neatest hand, without mistake or erasure. She was so 
tired she could hardly think, but worked on like a machine of 
the last adequacy and precision, set to do a certain work by the 
command of cold will. 

After reading over the finished thing for the last time, with 
an author's satisfaction in its artistic completeness, she suddenly 
at the blind insurgence of her heart kissed the paper over and 
over, bidding the letter take him that too, and this swarm of 
invisible loves escaping into the air when he opened it, be a 
secret reason — poor Manuelito I — for his not feeling too, too 
sad. 



CHAPTEB VI 

'^ TF one armB oneself with patience and the resolve not to 
X give in^ and employs one^s whole will to keep from the 
thoughts that weaken^ after a time the pain passes/' Camilla 
said to herself, going about her daily occupations, and did her 
obstinate best to think in preference the thoughts that made her 
strong. 

" If I were to toss every consideration to the wind and go to 
Manuel/' she would for example say to herself, ^^ how long would 
it be before I was lamenting, * If I had known I If I had only 
known how it would be I ' Instead of which, because I do know, 
I shall not walk into this trap, I will keep myself safe/' 

And she would say, *' Was I not getting along very well with- 
out him? Was he not getting along very well without me? A 
security that we shall presently both be getting along quite wdl 
again without each other." 

And she would say, **Do I not know, as well as if^it already 
had happened, that Manuel would in time give me cause for 
jealousy? I should be the old wife, the ridiculous person- 
age • . • Let me be content with anything, so I am saved that!'' 

And again she would say, " I was a fool and I pay for it 
There were elements in our love from the start which promised 
no good nor peace for either. But I grasped at the fulfilment of 
my desire irrespective of consequences, and now I have the conse- 
quences to digest. Let me shut my teeth and make them as 
little bad as I can." She did shut her teeth. " I can stand my 
own share of the misery," she said. ** Of his share I must not 
allow myself to think." 

At her age she had inevitably acquired a certain philosophical 
confidence in the power of time. And at her age, a consoling 

382 



THE TEXTTH ABOUT CAMILLA 383 

circumstance for once, time went 80 much faster than it had 
used to go ! ^' If one fortifies oneself to wait long enough^ it is 
certain that one will see the day when no matter what sorrow 
will have faded . . /' ran her meditations, " one must keep up 
one's courage meanwhile by fixing the eyes on a point beyond the 
bad stretch of the road/* 

Very much as she had done in her youth, she tried to visualize 
the bright, imaginary days ahead. What, at this stage of her 
career, was the fairest vision — fair it must be, but also credible, 
— with which to lure herself onward through the dark aisles of 
the present? ... 

Bich eventually through the lace-trade, she would go to live 
in some fine little city of secondary importance, like Bavenna, or 
Vicenza, and become the most important person there. She 
would arrive unknown and reassume her title of princess, letting 
it be supposed that she was a widow. She would draw around 
her all the people possessed of any gifts. With her knowledge of 
the world, experience of travel, her social tact and fiowing con- 
versation, her intelligence on such subjects as art, literature and 
politics, what a center of interest and power her salon could be- 
come . . . When the gray hairs became perceptible, she would 
powder her locks like a marquise ... 

But the best she could dream did not keep her heart from 
undercurrently bleeding, the wisest she could say to herself did 
not make the world anything but the gloomy gray of a dungeon, 
those first days after sending off the perfumed letter inscribed 
in violet and sealed with gold. 

Destiny was not willing to help her this time, unless it were 
in the way of giving her a new vexation to dull the old, — mor- 
tally disagreeable counter-irritant. As if the hour were come for 
some settling of accounts, it prepared for her one hard knock on 
top of the other. 

At Pension Marquhardt, whither her business often took her, 
a domestic approached her: "You are desired to go to num- 
ber three, where a foreign signora wishes to talk with you about 
an important order, an entire lace dress, as I xmderstand.*' 



384 THE TEXJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

To number three Camilla accordingly went^ and fall as she 
was of the prospective important order failed to recall it for the 
moment as the room where so long ago she used to read Corinne 
ou ritaiie to the serenely listening pupil in French who had 
made the great difference afterwards in her life. 

She entered and stood^ with an alert, interrogative half-smile, 
before the foreign signora who had answered her tap. 

This lady, small and dressed in a blue-gray silk, having risen 
from the writing-table, stood with her back to the light, which 
thus showed her chiefly as having silvery hair very modestly 
arranged. 

Camilla faced the windows. " They told me — '* she began at 
once, stopped, with amiable inquiry arching her eyebrows, and 
completed her meaning by a gesture and smile which placed her 
entirely at the orders of Madame for the production of any 
amount of lace. 

"Oh!^* came a hesitating cry from the other, and, after 
a pause, the exclamation, " It is Miss Cordez I ** 

Camilla's smile was wiped out, her brows knotted in a pain- 
ful consternation. 

"I don't mean Miss Cordez, how stupid of me! I mean 
Princess Elaguine, of course.'* The lady came forward tendering 
her hand. 

"Miss Morton!'* faltered Camilla, taking it, while sensa- 
tions of cold and heat and sickness gained inch by inch all 
through her body. 

" Do have a chair ... I think you will find this one more 
comfortable. Dear me, how wonderful it is! I had not the 
least idea you were in Florence. How very good of you to 
come ! " 

It all took Camilla at the wrong moment. It was too sudden 
for presence of mind, in the actual state of her nerves, at the 
absolute ebb of vitality. So that there was in her record another 
occasion to which she did not, could not, rise. Her fertile brain, 
confusedly called upon, suggested to her nothing. Only later in 
the day did it tell her what she ought to have said. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 386 

Mechanically she took the chair indicated by Miss Morton, and 
sat looking over at her with the air of one preparing and yet de- 
laying to speak. 

*^ Aunt Alice 1 '* came a break in the momentary silence, pro- 
ceeding from a third person, on the other side of the room, 
where a little boy sat at a table crowded with those sticky, messy 
things so dear to the young human male, " Aunt Alice, how do 
you make gray?'' 

"I should try mixing a little of the brick-red with blue, I 
think. But if I were you, Eugene, I should go and play in the 
garden for a little while. 

** Oh, let me finish this. Auntie ! ... I am painting a Ma- 
donna I *' 

" My nephew,** explained Miss Morton, then, a little hurriedly, 
with that remembered smile which had not changed in the years, 
the smile of a soft, timid heart, talked on, to relieve the embar- 
rassment of which she was becoming more definitely aware. 
" This is very nice I You have been in my mind, naturally, ever 
since I came, a few days ago. But I supposed you were in Paris, 
where I was told you lived. And do you know who told me? 
Do you remember Miss Northmere? Pauline? At Cannes? 
She is Mrs. Goldsmith now. She saw you at a Charity Bazaar 
some years ago. You were pointed out to her as one of the pret- 
tiest women in Paris, Princess Elaguine.'* 

** I am now Madame de Segovia,** Camilla said colorlessly. 

It was Alice's turn to look blank — only for a second, before 
she exclaimed in a voice of still heightened cordiality, "Then 
it is you I am waiting in for this forenoon! The wonderful 
Madame de Segovia, the only one who can be trusted to furnish 
a lace dress with armholes just where they are wanted and a 
vaist where it belongs 1 And style, and finish, and the right 
touch ! Perfection, I have been promised. Oh, but I remember 
how wonderfully clever you always were.** 

Camilla had the look of one who is now going to plunge 
through the thorn-hedge as fast as ever he can, and get away, 
txo matter what will be thought. 



386 THE TEXJTH ABOXJT CAMILLA 

" Yon are very good ... It is for yoursdf, the lace-dress?** 

^^ Dear me^ no. For my sister Grace. Her husband has asked 
me to attend to it for him. It must be quite the loveliest thing 
possible. Oyer-dress, you know^ and then long coat.'^ 

" You have the measurements ? ** 

^^ I have an old slip of my sister's, slyly subtracted from her 
closet.** 

" And what point is it to be ? What stitch ? *' 

" Venetian, I think.*' 

" And the length of time to make it in ? ** 

" Oh, what you please, within reason. My brother-in-law is 
not sailing for some time. We are setting about this early.** 

For the ten minutes longer of Madame de Segovia*8 stay she 
made it impossible to talk of anything but the lace dress. Alice 
vaguely ached with the sense that all this was not as it should be, 
that she ought to be able to change it, say the right word, do the 
right thing, to get past Camilla Cordez*s determination to keep 
her off. But she did not know how. It seemed kindest per- 
haps to accept the hint that the old associate desired no renewal 
which would involve giving an account of herself. Intuition 
informed Alice of some singular suffering near her, which was 
in part shame. Camilla*s eyelids appeared so weighted that 
they were diflScult to raise ; a gradual sullen red had invaded her 
features, which the first shock had turned so pale. 

When with a sudden movement she rose to leave, Alice sprang 
past her own timidity and found herself holding on to Camilla's 
hand with a tenacious grasp. 

" We shall see each other again 1 Our talk has been all of busi- 
ness. Your time is precious, I know, and this morning you can- 
not spare me a moment. But we must have a quiet hour, must n*t 
we? to talk over old times. How often I have found myself 
yearning for some one to talk with who knew Mrs. Northmere. 
We went through a great deal together, you and I, did we not? 
It makes a bond. And that you took such wonderful care of her, 
and that she thought so much of you, that makes a bond. I feel 
it very strongly in this moment of seeing you again. Promise 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 387 

that you will come some day soon, without regard to lace-dresses, 
and we can have a leisurely, friendly visit together, the two left 
of us who knew her best/* 

" Thank you, I will/* said Camilla painfully, the smile a little 
distorted on her stiff lips. 

Eugene, fearing the visitor would be gone before he had had a 
good look at her, dropped absorbing Art to come and stand be- 
side Auntie, and increase his useful knowledge of the world we 
live in by the frankest method, a stare which started forth on its 
gathering-in expedition from eyes of a very light blue, which 
were yet the darkest thing in sight between his well-spatted- 
down blond hair and his broad, stiff collar of immaculate white. 
Alice slipped an arm behind his shoulders. 

Mrs. Northmere's black pearl and her star-sapphire stood face 
to face a moment longer, the one wistfully trying to meet the 
other^s eyes, the other making it impossible. Then Camilla re- 
peated conclusively, **I will come another time. For the mo- 
ment, I must haste. Pardon me and Adieu • . • You under- 
stand, I hope . . .'* 

What Alice understood best was that she should not with Ca- 
milla's consent set eyes on her again. The further business in 
connection with the lace-dress was in fact transacted by a dif- 
ferent person, a delegate who brought Madame de Segovia's ex- 
cuses, on the ground of indisposition. The dress, however, 
turned out perfect, as promised, it was quite the sweetest thing 
possible in Venetian point. 

*'But why should she have been so upset at seeing me?'* 
Alice wondered, after hearing all that Mrs. Marquhardf s niece 
could tell her of Madame de Segovia's history. Alice was not 
without imagination, and, applying this in a sincere desire to un- 
derstand, found a possible explanation, but could not without 
diflBculty adopt it. " Poor proud creature, crucified by mortifica- 
tion. Before me, of all persons ! Before me ! " 

The pity roused by Camilla's discomfiture was given a sharper 
edge by the imwilling recognition that time had been stealing 



888 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

away her youth, too. The eye caught by her still arresting good 
looks might express its sense of them in the dubiously gratifying, 
'^ What a beautiful woman she must have been ! ** And nothing 
had been more characteristic in Camilla of old than the triumph 
on her brow, which came from the perpetual consciousness of 
beauty. So now her sense of defeat must be daily, hourly . . . 
Alice resented the discourtesy of time toward this sister woman 
as she had not thought of doing for herself, with so very much 
less to lose. 

She could not get Camilla Cordez out of her mind, or dispose 
of the regret that she should not have opportunity to diow 
her some conspicuous friendliness. Adoring Mrs. Northmere's 
memory, she felt an inherited responsibility, somehow. 

Turning over Eugene to the care of his papa, she drove that 
afternoon to Gli Allori, the Protestant cemetery outside the city, 
on the Certosa road. Like one well acquainted, she threaded the 
narrow streets of the small crowded marble ciiy, where the only 
visible activity was that of an old gardener wheeling a barrow of 
growing plants. She found the habitation she sought, a tablet 
marked it, not unlike the title-page of a giantess's book. Half 
of it lay in sunshine, half in the waving shadow of black cy- 
presses, the wind had strewn over it a few petals of monthly 
roses. 

Alice in the years had been to the place repeatedly. Her eye 
stopped to-day, partly, at first sight, in oflfense, on a novelty, — a 
great wreath of black and white beads left on Mrs. Northmere's 
grave. 

After a moment, " Of course I '* she thought, *' She came, most 
likely on All Soul's day, as is the custom of this land, to pay her 
respects to the dead, and that was for her the natural offering to 
bring.** With reverent hand she laid her sheaf of cut flowers be- 
side it. 

She went after a time to seat herself on a bench under the cy- 
presses, from which her eyes could rest on the dear tomb, and, 
still preoccupied with Camilla, all the more preoccupied with her 
since seeing the wreath, tried, with the superstition of poetic na- 



THE TETJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 389 

ttires — tried, hoped, to get some inspiration, some light in her 
perplexity as to what she should do about Camilla, from the 
sacred neighborhood of the beloved bones. 

She remembered a remark from that inveterate lover of (Jod's 
earth sleeping the long sleep a few feet away, to the effect that, 
her good moral bringing-up notwithstanding, she found it in her- 
self to glory in anything embodying so much of the joyous force 
and vitality of the universe as that same naughtily inclined 
Italian secretary of hers. 

Nothing very directly pertinent to her problem came to Alice^s 
mind. The god of that oracle had withdrawn, his sybil was 
dust. Mrs. Northmere's wisdom lived with her soul in Heaven. 
But something of the atmosphere of her presence rose around the 
friend steeping herself fondly in memories, and the reflection 
that in judging people you must not do it by standards which 
they have never thought of applying to themselves, but see, if you 
can, how far they approach their own ideals, not yours, Alice 
took to emanate from her. 

Camilla decided not to climb to Villa Clelia that evening. 
She did not wish to see any of their faces. She wished to see 
nobody, and be seen of nobody. 

She not unfrequently found it convenient to spend the night 
at her apartment in town, a fine, high-studded room with ceiling 
fresco and painted floor-mosaic, on the front of the house, one 
flight up, which pleased her taste altogether better than any- 
thing at the villa. She had arranged it, at moderate cost, to 
look as far as possible rich. The chest of drawers which held 
her samples was that dark modem carved wood which imitates 
the old. Two goodly mirrors, bounded by those special frames of 
Florence, all leaves and flowers and volutes of gilt wood, re- 
flected each other from opposite walls, and cheered the customer 
trying on a lace bolero with an all-round view of its good fit. 
The prevailing tone of draperies and upholstery was cerise. 

The window-door let one out upon a balcony extending past 
more windows, belonging to other rooms, and overlooking a quiet 



390 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

street. A second door opened on to the antechamber shared by 
Signora Beltrame, the dress-maker whose imposing sequence of 
rooms opened from it likewise. A third door, imperceptible at 
first glance, for it only interrupted the tone of the wall by a rec- 
tangular crack and a very small brass door-knob, gave into a 
white-washed cell, smelling faintly of scented soap and damp 
sponges, and lighted through a tiny iron-grated window. This 
cubby served as dressing-room. 

Camilla had, with her neighbor's gracious consent, bought an 
interest in the housemaid, who would when required slip around 
the comer and bring back from the restaurant a basket packed 
with a not unappetizing meal. 

But Camilla sent her on no such errand this evening. The 
thought of eating disgusted her. She sat herself down beside 
the lamp to work over certain accounts, and keep from thinking. 

An eye able to pierce through the walls would have caught her, 
however, a little later, not book-keeping, but with arms on her 
ledger and forehead buried in her hands, thinking. 

Hideous, hideous, it had been that morning, running into Alice 
Morton unprepared like that 1 The person who had known her 
in the days when she was little better than a menial, and who lor 
that reason had been counted among those whose ears she wished 
most to have ring with the report of her great rise in the world. 
. . . The person who had known the exact figure of the 
fortune she received, — never to have seen her when as princess 
she ruled supreme in beauty and elegance, but to come upon her, 
ruined, discrowned, unimportant, a little bourgeoise implicated in 
vulgar commerce, a tattered remnant on the dust-heap ! Unen- 
durable ! . . . And not a word to say for herself I Leaving it 
to be supposed possibly that all had happened through her own 
indiscretion and folly. 

Every defeat of her life rose up before Camilla while in the 
dejection of these thoughts. The gall of every frustration and 
every sorrow was on her lips for an hour, bitter and burning as at 
first. It seemed to her, in looking back over the whole remem- 
bered stretch of her days, that she had got very little out of her 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 391 

life. So much effort, — take it altogether, bo much hard work, 
and what to show for it? At the very best, what had she had? 
With Constantine, a bright worldly life . . . Yes, but she had 
had him to put up with. With Manuel, a mad paradise . . . 
Yes, but for how long? And now, to the end, hard work, ob- 
scurity, and what else ! 

The faintly lighted mirrors threw back to each other the re- 
flection of a pale, tense face, tragically staring into the shadow. 
The face was repeated, more and more drowned, down an endless 
vista to right and left, one copy as joyless as the other. The 
days of her life before and behind appeared to Camilla just as 
monotonously empty of delight. 

It occurred to her, as will happen in similar moments to most 
persons, to ask herself what there had been, in her conduct of 
life, to explain the severity of Heaven toward her. It seemed to 
her, in all good faith, that she had been a more than ordinarily 
well-behaved woman, discharging her duties, paying her 

debts Ah! but there was one weak spot in her defense. 

The irregular relation with Elaguine. That had been a sin, it 
could never be thought anything else. The church called it that. 
Society called it that. She called it that herself. A sin against 
the commandment of God, which justified His vengeance and was 
perhaps at the root of all her misfortunes. ... On the other 
hand, how, she asked, could she have done differently ? From the 
moment she married him, that spendthrift would have proceeded 
to waste the money to which the law gave him a right. Heaven 
in its All-intelligence must be able to see that she could not do 
that. Later, when it was practical, she had been honestly mar- 
ried. And now she was willing to abase herself and take blame, 
although unable to see, either, how, given the same circum- 
stances, she should not do the same thing over again. 

It was clearly a case for the saints, either to enlighten her 
spirit and help her to a good repentance, or to intercede with 
God. They had been human like herself, had sinned like her- 
self, some of them indeed had been very great sinners I They 
must appreciate the diflSculties of her position. 



399 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

For many years she had been a negligent Christian^ — persons 
are too lamentably likely to do as those do among whom they 
live, and she for long years had moved in circles where slight at- 
tention was paid to such matters. Since her return home she 
had been to Sunday Mass, as a matter of course. But not to 
confession. To confession she resolved to go, and from her 
spiritual adviser get counsel how to put herself in order towards 
Heaven with regard to that irregularity now impossible to rega- 
larize. 

At nine o'clock she was still sitting by her solitary lamp, 
thinking. A sound at the door brought an instant change in her 
attitude and expression, she resumed the front with which she 
was wont to meet the world. 

It was the son of the house. He stood holding the door- 
handle, and looking in with dark eyes in a pale face, very 
young, but a little mournful already, from much civilization. 
His mustache was what might have been made with a single 
burnt match. Camilla knew him as " my son Ernesto,'* and had 
not been imconscious from the first of a certain fixity of interest 
in his eyes when she caught them following her. He was in 
crow-black dress-coat, swan-white shirt-front and tie. 

" My mother sends to ask if you will not, excusing the ab- 
sence of ceremony, come and take coflfee with us. We celebrate 
my natal day, and should feel immensely honored . . .'* 

Camilla jumped up with a readiness full of compliment, 
really grateful for this unforeseen chance of escape from herself. 

" But is it a feast ? '' she inquired. ^' For you see I am not at- 
tired for a feast.'' 

" No, no. Only the family are present. My aunt and uncle 
besides ourselves." 

" I will come with pleasure. A minute at the mirror, and I 
follow. Allow me to add my felicitations to those of the 
others . . . May life keep all its promises faithfully in your 
case ! " 

When Camilla entered the Beltrame dining-room, where a fine 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 393 

dessert was set on the table, waiting, she divined, for her arrival, 
she scented something very agreeable to her in the atmosphere. 
These people had not said, ^^ There is that poor De Segovia alone 
in her room. Let ns be Christian and ask her to partake of our 
good things/* They had said, " Here is a moment when we have 
something fit to offer our interesting and exclusive lodger. Let 
us see, if she do us the honor of accepting, whether by means of 
it we may not become a little better acquainted.*' 

The eyes regarding her betrayed, she thought, a sense of some 
veiled greatness and importance in her, — which it was the part 
of good manners to carry off easily. 

** How very amiable of you I ** Signora Beltrame greeted her, 
and with effusive compliment made her to sit at her right hand. 

This Beltrame was in a sense two persons. To those who 
met her in the character of dress-maker, attentive to business, ob- 
sequious, jealously concerned for the credit of her establishment, 
it was never given to see her in her other part, of vivacious 
widow,— good figure, amusing face, young at forty, who with in- 
terests all independent of dress-making went gaily accumulating 
a past which it would be some fun to remember when she nodded 
in the armchair of old age. She had friends, she went to the 
theater, she heard the town-talk, she discussed II Fuoco. " Dress- 
making is not a life I *' she said, and got as much life outside of 
it as she could without detriment to her trade or her reputation, 
of which she was unselfishly careful for the sake of her son. 

Her lodger had from the first inspired her with sifn.paiia. 
That aura of distinction notwithstanding, that well-bred hauteur, 
calculated to keep off the unqualified, notwithstanding, she was 
pleased to fancy an affinity between them. An enormous desire 
to penetrate behind the reserve of the once great lady, — certain 
interesting facts of whose history, not generally known, she had 
heard from a journalist, her friend, — made her bold to believe 
that it could be done. A dress-maker and a lace-maker, alia fin 
dei conti, were not so far out of each other's sphere but that one 
might aspire to the footing of friend. It could be done, intuition 



394 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

told her^ if she would take and preserve the attitude of unquea- 
tionable inferiority. As she unquestionably felt her inferiority, 
such a necessity formed no obstacle. Not every one is proud. 

A bottle of AsU spumante went off with festive pop. There 
was musical touching of glasses and framing of apposite augurii, 
before the golden liquid, at once fresh and tingling, was absorbed 
into the smile. 

*' Twenty years of age I To be twenty I ^ the uncle was first to 
sigh, a man of thrice that niunber of years, and shook his gray 
head, as he looked at Ernesto with the compliment of envy and 
the melancholy of remembrance. 

" Yes ! To be twenty ! '* echoed his wife, more to say some- 
thing than because she at the moment really wished herself in 
any way different. 

"To be twenty!'' followed the mother. "The trouble is, 
— non i vero, signora f — that one does not know what it means 
to be twenty until one is twice that age ! Believe, Ernesto mine, 
on the word of others, that this is the most beautiful period of 
your life.*' 

" Ah, yes ! " Camilla took up, looking toward him with a sweet 
and sorrow-tinged smile. *' The dreams of twenty ! The golden 
illusions ! The beautiful faith in the future ! The strength so 
sure of itself I Everything ahead, — fortune, glory, love I . . . 
Though all these things will come to you. Signer Ernesto, we 
are sure, yet no good can ever quite equal the good of just being 
twenty. And so, be very happy to-night, rejoice in your youth 1 ^ 

The object of these monitions gave no appreciable sign that he 
tried to feel more consciously the happiness of being twenty; but 
when the fair monitress turned to converse with the others, lie 
permitted himself a long look at the face which he, like many 
before him, found enkindling to the imagination. 

He rose before long, to kiss his mother on the forehead and 
excuse himself from the company. He was going to a dance, at 
the house of friends. 

The aunt and uncle went home prosily early, with the uncalled- 
for remark to their hostess, who sat up dressed in garments no 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 395 

diflferent from those she confectioned for the idle class, "We 
know that you too are obliged to get up early in the morning ! ** 

" May I offer ? . . ^^ asked the Beltrame, with a hospitable 
smile, of the De Segovia, when they were left alone at the table ; 
she extended an arm with the bottle of Asti persuasively tilted. 

Camilla reached her glass without demur. "Thanks. A 
mere drop.** She helped herself to another hiscotto, then, as if 
absent-mindedly, picked up another, and another, regularly 
hungry by this time, and in no haste to move, finding it very 
good that her nerves should relax, and a little of the warmth of 
pleasure-in-life return to her veins. 

The Beltrame refilled her own glass too, and gossiped a little 
about the aunt and uncle, her husband's kin. Then talked about 
her life's idol, Ernesto, and the social opportunities he was win- 
ning, remarkable for his age and, let her be frank, his station. 
Presently, to set the example of candor, she talked about herself, 
more particularly in her aspect of attractive widow who refuses 
to remarry on account of her son. 

With their heads a little nearer together the two women were 
finally not so much discussing as comparing notes and agreeing 
on a subject forever inexhaustible in interest, — men, the pe- 
culiarities of disposition observable in men. 

When Camilla, her eyes warm within, returned to her room 
and found the old problems waiting in the air, she stood a mo- 
ment between the two mirrors, fixed in thought. Then she threw 
back her shoulders and tossed up her chin. She was herself, Ca- 
milla, and it would go hard but she could by some means shape 
the future to her liking. 

She went back and forth moving silk cushions and heaping 
them on a chair. She folded back the tapestry which wholly cov- 
ered the divan, and looked with pleasure on such a bed as re- 
minded her of the days when she was a lady, satin puflf, fine linen, 
embroidered pillow-case, an instance of self-indulgence for which 
she had no remorse. 

A few minutes, and she was dropping off to sleep. Sorrowful 
thoughts in ambush on the borderland stretched out long gray 



396 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

fingers to catch at her . . . She returned half awake and sent a 
sigh to Manuel. As sleep stole over her again, it was as if after 
sinking through some shifting element she came to a solid and 
restful base. This was, with a promise of eventual comfort, the 
consciousness of wonderful powers in herself of recuperation. 



CHAPTER VII 

1BEG your pardon, but is not this Princess Elagnine ? ** 
Camilla, who had been walking with her eyes on the pave* 
ment^ as, preoccupied, she did so much in these days, looked 
sharply up. 

A man, fine-looking, American, and innocent of hair on his 
face as any rose, a man distinguished by an extreme correctness 
of attire and deportment, stood before her, one hand provision- 
ally extended, the other holding his hat an inch or two above his 
head. 

^ I believe it is Mr, Floy I '* breathed Camilla, after the mo- 
ment allowed her to stare and recall. 

^ You have guessed it I I hope you will pardon the imperti- 
nence, I have been following you for blocks. I was sure it was 
you from the first instant, but I had to make double sure ! ^' 

" And yet Qod knows that I have changed 1 *^ she sighed pret- 
tily. But already at that moment, by a power women have, mys- 
terious to themselves as to others, she had made herself very like 
the one he remembered. She had recaptured something of the 
old darkling luster, the sovereign security of glance ; she was at 
the moment more than beautiful enough behind her spotted veil, 
she knew, to make his old adoration not look to him absurd. 
Curiously, while the meeting with Alice had made her sick, it 
was so disagreeable, meeting Floy gave her spirits an uplift. 
But wherefore " curiously '* ? A man is so different. 

Ignoring her sigh, as if it would not become him to say what 
he thought of it, " May I walk with you a little way ? ** he asked. 

They were on the Lungamo, it was nearing sunset, she was on 

her way to the Duomo where she would take an electric tram for 

397 



398 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

San Domenico. She changed her mind and decided to go to 
the house in Via del Mandorlo. 

" May I ask what you are doing in Florence? ** she reattacked 
conversation as they fell into step. 

'^ I am ashamed to tell you. I am sent ahroad to travel for a 
few months and get my nerves back into shape.'' 

*' Ah, yes, like so many Americans.^' 

" But what of you ? You live in Paris, I believe.** 

*^ I live there no more. From your addressing me as Princess 
Elaguine I know that you have heard no news of me for a long 
time. I am now Madame de Segovia and live here. Very 
strange f ortimes have been mine in the last years . . But this 
is not the place to talk of them. Tell me of yourself. You 
have prospered, I am sure. I detect that certain look about 
you . . .'* 

^' When one drops music for the rubber business, the least he 
can demand is that he shall prosper/* 

" Would that my husband then had dropped music for rub- 
berl** 

" De Segovia, did you say ? Oh ! Is your husband that De 
Segovia?'* 

" The singer. You have heard him ? ** 

** I know his name only from reading it in our musical papers." 

"You may have him at your famous Metropolitan in New 
York next season.** She could not give this information without 
a touch of proprietary pride. 

" Ah, then perhaps you too . . .** 

"No!** Her expression warned him to inquire no further. 
All of domestic unhappiness nobly borne sat in the arch of her 
eyebrow and the droop of her lid. 

" To think of seeing you like this 1 ** he hurried on to a dif- 
ferent subject. "To think of the good fortune of happening 
upon you in the street 1 ** 

" Then you had not quite forgotten me? ** 

"Forgotten! . . .** He attempted to correct the impression 
which might be made by his unguarded emphasis on the word, by 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 399 

continuing in a different, a matter-of-fact tone. " Luckily one 
does forget, after a fashion. When I married, I had a pretty 
whole and healthy heart to offer my wife. But I doubt if one 
ever quite forgets his first dream ! ** He tried by a humorous eye 
to keep the words from seeming sentimental, and show his con- 
sciousness that this was hardly the talk for the place and hour. 

*' Your wife I She is here with you ? '* 

*' Wish she were I No. No. She would not leave her babies. 
The latest is certainly rather young to travel. She let me have 
our eldest to bring along. I just left him stufSng cakes at 
Giacosa's with his Aunt Alice.*' 

"His Aunt Alice? ... A little American boy of eight or 
nine, with light hair? Can it be Miss Morton, his Aunt 
Alice?'' 

" Miss Morton, yes. But . . . Why, of course, you knew her, 
knew her well in the old days." 

" She did not tell you that she had seen me here in Florence ? " 

" Seen you? She told me nothing. I ... I ... I wonder 
she forgot!" 

Camilla smiled in her subtle Florentine way. " She did not 
forget. She remembered. — So you are the husband of her sis- 
ter ? Ask her about me. She will be able to tell you of my pres- 
ent life and circumstances much which it would be painful to me 
to recount." 

" No ! " A suspicion of testiness tinged his manner of utter- 
ing the negative. " If she imagined reasons why she should not 
tell me of seeing you, those same reasons shall be sufficient for my 
not telling her either that I have seen you. Princess, — did I 
not always call you that? — may I not claim something on the 
ground simply of old friendship ? Your words suggest that you 
have had troubles, reverses ... I wish you would tell me about 
it." 

She shook her head slowly in refusal, and there was a silence 
before she answered, without looking at him, " No. What end 
would it serve? Here in the street besides . . , Let us talk of 
other things. You are remaining loaag in Florence?" 



400 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

"Only a day or two more. Let me see. The fifteentL I 
leave on Monday. Eugene, that is my boy, is going to remain 
with his Aunt Alice, while I knock about for a couple of months." 

" Ah^ I envy you. Travel, movement, change. I have loved it 
80 much. Where do you go ? ** 

" Switzerland, Paris, London. My trip has been all mapped 
out for me. But surely I shall find nothing like this . . .^' 

They were passing a piazza, with its old church-front, its 
cluster of garden-beds about the base of a bronze statue. In the 
blue sky above, the wind blew before it a scattering fleet of little 
rose-pink clouds. In the opening between rows of houses straight 
ahead, and stopping the end of the street, a green hill was visible^ 
quite near . . . Green? No, mysteriously iridescent, wonder- 
ful .. . 

Floy took off his hat, looked at the sky with an expression of 
almost troubled enjoyment, looked slowly around him, and swept 
a hand across his brow. '* Your Italy,*' he said, " always goes to 
my head ! " 

" A beautiful land, yes,*' she supplied perfunctorily. 

" I believe it takes a person from a Northern climate and with- 
out a drop of Latin blood to properly feel the spell of it. And 
those particular people fear it a little too, as well as love it, find- 
ing it, to them, somehow . . . well, demoralizing. I don't be- 
lieve you can understand what I mean." 

" But yes I You are thinking of the puritan natures, is it 
not?" 

" When I get to Italy, the moment I strike Naples, I feel my- 
self fit for aU that is not permitted by the law I " he lauded. 
" That something or other in the air, I don't know, the roses, 
the street-singing, the dark eyes ... I turn into a heathen. I 
want to crown myself with roses, and go down the streets bawling 
songs, and elope with all the dark eyes I My wife, who is the 
sharpest little woman in the world, seems to know this by in- 
stinct, so she sends me at once to Switzerland, and plans to come 
and do Italy with me herself, later, when the children are old 
enough either to leave or to bring along." 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 401 

*^ I think I saw her once/* 

** My wife?*' 

" Yes, the little sister of Miss Morton^ who was going to school 
at Lausanne/* 

** That *s it ! Grace went to school at Lausanne/* 

" I do not remember how she looked/* 

*'You would think her a charming woman now, I am sure. 
Not exactly beautiful, but unusually attractive. Sweet-natured, 
but with what we call a great deal of character. I hear it said, 
rather often, that she has been the making of me/* 

^'And your sister, who as I remember tried also in the old 
days to make of you something? . . .** 

*' Pauline. She is married to a man who had made himself 
a big broker, and now lets her make him, though rather against 
the grain, into a society man.** 

*' Ahy how many things, how many things have happened/* Ca- 
milla exclaimed with feeling, ^^ since we separated at Cannes, 
each to go his way in life. That little group who stood at the 
entrance of the hotel exchanging good-bys . . /* 

** Yes I I don*t like to remember my own state of mind on the 
occasion.** 

^^ You, a singer, who thought his life broken by an amour maU 
heurevx, were to become — had you but known ! — a manufac- 
turer of articles in caoutchouc, and be perfectly happy in mar- 
riage with a little woman, not beautiful, you tell me, but very 
intelligent, who will give you a dozen charming children ... I, 
whom your sister thought it possible to treat with arrogance, be- 
cause I took wages, no doubt, was to know the summits of 
worldly grandeur, and then be precipitated from them, through 
fate and the fault of others, and meet you, as I do, in garments 
I fear a little fripes, once more poor, disappointed, but without 
the illusions of youth any more to cheer me on, and without 
quite the strength, I fear, to support it all . . .** 

" Don*t, my dear, dear princess ! ** 

*' No, you are right. One must not speak of things which give 
pain to others. See the contrariety of human nature ! It is the 



402 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

pleasure of seeing you again which makes me sad. No morel 
Let us continue our review. Mrs. Northmere^ so full of life 
etill, who was but a few years removed from fatal illness^ the 
grave. Miss Pauline, who had the look sometimes of one who 
eats her own liver in secret^ besieged by cares and jealousies, and 
is now very rich, — to be a big broker means to be very rich, does 
it not? — without, I magnanimously hope, one care or one jeal- 
ousy* Has she children ? '' 

" An only son, who, you may believe, is a wonder and a 
model!'' 

'^I can imagine I Then there was the old gentleman, yeiy 
kindly, perhaps a little tiresome, who loved his joke so 
much . . .** 

** My f ather-in-law.** 

** Ah, of course. I liked him so very much, you know. What 
has life done to him?'' 

** I can't see that it has done a thing ! Upon my word ! He is 
still the head of a publishing house, he still loves his little joke. 
He makes an awf uUy jolly grandfather, and I must say a rather 
decent father-in-law too." 

*' And the other one of our little party. Miss Morton? What :, 
has her history been since with me she followed our noble old 
friend to the last resting-place?" 

" But you saw each other here quite lately, you said? " 

" Yes. Not, however, to talk of such things as that. We met 
in a manner painful to me, — our sensibilities you know some- 
times take precedence of our reason, — and I made our interview 
short. She has never appeared to me, though, like the sort of 
person to whom things happen." 

" External things, you mean. I know. The life events of 
persons like her take place inside. Alice is the salt of the earth. 
We see too little of her now. She lives almost entirely over here, 
in Siena, in Assisi. She writes, you know. Nothing that makes 
much stir, but good, thoughtful stuff, often about your people, 
the story of a little peasant, or a braider of straw, or a vender of 
plaster Madonnas." 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 403 

" Imagine I . . . And there was one other in the picture 
which I see when I call up that morning of our partings so clear 
still before my eyes ... Do you remember? The dog! The 
dog that Miss Morton afterwards took to America with her.'' 

Floy spoke with a robust accession of warmth. " Boss Brady, 
oh, yes. Old Boss ! He lived to be I don't know how old ! He 
was half blind and wholly deaf, and so stiff that Alice had to 
carry him to bed in her arms, up those steep old stairs of ours 
at the farm in South Marshfield. A good dog. Boss. As good 
a dog as ever lived. A mighly fine old boy. We felt when he 
died as if one of the family had left us.*' 

They had been going more and more slowly, spinning it out, 
she knowing and he fearing they were near the end of their 
walk. She stopped before a door in Via del Mandorlo, marked 
below the number by a brass plate : Beltrame. Primo Piano. 

*^ It is here that I live," she said. 

"Alone?" 

** Alone. I occupy a little comer in the house of others. . . ." 

*^What a singular fate," she exclaimed, after they had stood 
a minute in silence, delaying to speak the parting words, ^^ singu- 
lar, that when you wish to take home to your wife as a sou- 
venir of Italy the finest lace dress that can be procured, it should 
be I, precisely, who am charged with the order to furnish it ! " 

*' What do you mean ? " 

" It is my manner of earning a living, lace is, — my business, 
which I transact in part in that room up there over the balcony. 
It was with regard to a lace dress for her sister that I had inter- 
course with Miss Morton." 

*' Now I understand I " 

*' Be not afraid lest it prove a robe of NTessus ! I am bonne 
princesse as ever, and wish you and yours only happiness. Yes, 
from my deepest heart." 

"Thank you. Thank you. This has been very . . . very 
. . . And I am not "to see you again ? " 

" Since you are leaving so soon. . . ." 

** But I feel ... I feel as if I must know more about you. 



404 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 



Tou have been willing to tell me nothing • • • And now yon 
spring this lace business on me. . . /^ 

*^ Be not troubled. On Monday you will have left, and all the 
miseries, small and great, of Florence, will take that imreality 
for you which things have when they are out of sight/' 

^'Not any miseries, Madame, which I can imagine to be 
yours . . . See here, why can't I see you again? *' 

'' Mais . . . jene demande pas tnieuxl ** she unexpectedly re- 
ceived this. 

" To-morrow is Sunday/' 

" Yes, my day of rest/' 

" Coidd n't you . . . Could n't I . . . Let me think." 

^* I have thought I " she with great simpliciiy and naturalness 
helped him out. " Come to see me in the evening. We will 
have a little supper together in my apartment" 

** Capital I . . . That would be better, would it, ..." he 
hesitated, ^^ than your dining with me at one of the big hotels— 
or, or, or one of those open air places out of town, with a 
view? . . ." 

" Believe me, much, much better." 

''I will come. I shall regard it as a very great privilege 
indeed." 

** Delightful. A demain, then." 

''A demain. At? . . /' 

** Shall we say eight o'clock ? " 

When she had laid off her things, Camilla went in search of 
Emilia. The acquaintance with the dress-maker had reached 
such rapid ripeness that already she called her Emilia, while 
Emilia, gratified though she was by this familiarity, still not 
presuming to take the same liberty, addressed the condescending 
friend scrupulously as Signora Camilla, no otherwise than did 
her lace-workers. 

They sat in prolonged confab, nodding busy black heads, with 
those little smiles, airs and looks of intelligence particular to 
the sex, when they have situations of a certain sort to discuss. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 405 

Then Emilia, knowing, all by herself, the proprieties of such 
an occasion as a visit from a friend of the past, rich, who may 
be tempted to invest some portion of his fortime in the lace- 
trade, went unprompted to fetch from the work-room a Paris 
model of distinguished elegance, and see what trifling alterations 
it might need to fit the former princess. 

After this, she preceded Camilla to her china-cupboard, and 
with modest deprecation of its poverty invited her to choose 
among the best dishes and glass. 

Finally, beaming with the joy of her power to be useful, she 
placed at her tenant's disposal the talents of her cook and the 
efficiency of her maid. 

Camilla had never fancied, for herself, the use of rouge. The 
artifices of her toilette were very simple, but they were also very 
effective. Powder, to unify and heighten the pallor of her 
f ace^ the merest touch of ruby on her lips to enhance the white- 
ness of her teeth. 

Looking back at herself from the mirror, by the light of two 
flanking candles, she was not displeased. Above the black eve- 
ning gown, discreetly transparent over shoulders and arms, her 
neck and face rose white as the white camellia in her hair. Mar- 
ble and moonlight, green fountains gleaming in the shadow of 
cypresses, of such things would a poetic imagination be re- 
minded by the vision of her beauty. 

** For a few hours, by candlelight/ I can still produce the 
right illusion I '' she said to herself, with justified satisfaction, 
as she smoothed her beautiftd eyebrows with a little brush, to 
dear them of the last grains of powder. 

From a velvet case she took two large pearls and screwed them 
in her ears. For Mrs. Northmere, whose conjectures were so 
often correct, had made one bad guess. Camilla had not dis- 
carded imitation pearls for real ones, when she was certain 
that the pearls she wore would in any case be taken for genuine. 
And so these worthless darlings of their owner had not suffered 
the fate of their more candid companions in the jewel-casket. 



406 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

She shook drops of perfume into her hand and patted them 
on to her hair and bosom. 

From the console before the mirror she then removed all 
signs that it had been her toilet-table, and after a glance around 
the room to see that all looked as it should, she sat down to 
wait for Ploy Northmere. 

YeSy all looked as it should. Every object that did not help 
the picture, removed from sight; flowers everjrwhere, in that 
profusion possible to Italy; the little table daintily set; the 
candelabra ready to light; the sample-chest turned into a side- 
board, spread with the changes of service, — the compotiers full 
of bright fruits, the cheese on its vine-leaf, the cake on its 
lace-paper, the wine, the cordial. 

Wonderfully charming and intimate, all of it. A beautiful 
woman, smiling at her fortunate guest between two sheaves of 
twinkling tapers, was alone needed to make it into an irresistible 
page of romance. 

The hands of the beautiful woman who would shortly thus 
be smiling were at the moment cold as stone, because the 
blood was so busy in her brain. 

At five minutes to eight exactly, Ifina, the maid, announced 
a gentleman whose name it was worse than impossible to say 
after him. 

Flo/s hands were cold, too. When the palms of hostess 
and guest touched in the clasp of greeting, and they smiled 
friendliness, in the eyes of each was a point of reserve. Nine- 
tenths of the woman were excited, interested, eager, and by 
anticipation victorious, but one-tenth was bored at the necessity 
for all this bother. Nine-tenths of the man were excited, in- 
terested, pleased by this adventure and opportunity, but one- 
tenth was suspicious and profoundly on guard. 

Half an hour from that, however, her point of disrelish and 
his point of mistrust had alike been blown to heaven, and to 
the genial music of knives and forks the two were whole- 
heartedly enjoying themselves. 

To feel herself beautiful, wonderful, admired once more, was 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 407 

for Camilla like a return to her native element. To find her 
in spite of the years beautiful^ wonderful stilly and withal 
artless^ undangerous^ sympathetic, was for him a signal to be 
frank, easy, and without afterthought happy. There were they 
talking like the best of old friends, friends in fact such as 
they had never been, as if in the long interval such seeds as 
had existed of good imderstanding between them had quietly 
ripened, and mere growing older now made them fitter for this 
pleasant, calm, and thomless relation. 

His turn first to tell about himself, she insisted. He took 
from an upper pocket and handed to her across the table a flat 
leather case, brief compendium of his history. She examined 
the photographs contained in it. The wife, by herself, in one of 
the divisions; in the other, the wife with her four little ones. 

" It is as you say,*' she remarked, after dtdy prolonged atten- 
tion. ** She is not beautiful, but possesses a great deal of that 
power to please which we call charm. And ... I am a reader of 
faces, you know ! . . . a fine nature, very fine, open, generous, — 
a little exacting, perhaps, because ^e herself has so much con- 
science, but never irritable, resentful. You ought to be very 
happy with her, — the sort of woman whom her husband can 
with closed eyes trust, give her all the liberty she asks, leave 
in her hands the keys, depart over the wide ocean, and sleep 
every night on both ears . . . Yes, you ought to be very happy 
with her.'* 

^^ I am ! " he said simply, and felt more than ever at his 
ease with the old flame. 

** And the children, beautiful little angels, every one. A boy, 
a girl, a little boy, and what is the nourisson, the all-young 
baby?'' 

*' A girl.'' 

^ Ha, ha ! The symmetry. Perfect I Perfect ! — Now place 
the little enchanted sheath once more in the pocket over your 
heart, where you keep it, I divine, for a taliRman ! " 

" A talisman, yes ! ** 

He smiled over at her, and she smiled back with eyes in 



408 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

which mockery for a moment shone bright. But it vanislied, 
as a siren at some call of warning plunges beneath the green 
waves . . . She must be very careful, she reminded herself. 
Seductive, of course. When one has planned to obtain a great 
deal of money from a man, the situation, it goes without sayings 
demands seductiveness. But the seductress to-night, to be 
one at all, must be very innocent and high-minded. For this 
Northmere bom in Boston of Massachusetts was one of those 
natures that while not difficult to influence, to lure, yet fed 
strongly the need to stand well with their conscience. The spice 
of malice which he detected in her smile was so good-humored 
after all that he went on freely to chat 'about his home in 
Tuxedo and the felicity of a commuter. 

"But here am I,** he checked himself, "rambling on abont 
my own affairs, when that is certainly not what I came for.'' 

" But yes, but yes ! We wish to be merry, and so we must 
talk of happy things. If we begin to talk about me and my 
poor affairs, at once the merry will go out like a candle at 
which you blow I Continue, continue, I supplicate. I am most 
glad to hear. — Take, I pray, a little more of the pigeons . . . 
Nina, servil . . . You like it? This fashion of cooking them 
we call aJla cacdaiora. And let me pour for you wine . . .^ 

"You are eating nothing yourself.^* 

" Oh, but yes ! I am eating enormously . . . for me ! ** She 
took a morsel into her mouth, and with her handsome teeth in 
view, as if to show there was no trick, consumed it. He re- 
membered that she had never seemed to care about things to 
eat and drink, not even bonbons or sweet wines. Only black 
coffee. Of that she had been almost as fond as of perfumery. 

"Who would ever have thought,** he went off in a pleasant 
enthusiasm, " that we two would be sitting face to face clinking 
glasses together like this? ... I drink, Madame, to your 
eyes ! ** 

"And I drink ... to the past!*' 

With glasses lifted, they scrutinized each other, both openly 
seeking the past in tiie face opposite. His eyes were honestly 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 409 

flattering^ hers beautifully mysterious. She thought him in 
truth much changed. He was handsome certainly^ in his black 
cloth and fine linen, white as the starch that stiffened it. Some 
of his conspicuous clearness of line he had retained, with that 
look of almost unnatural cleanness. But he was not Narcissus 
any more. At this moment, too, his skin was of a uniform 
coppery brightness, from the strong sun of the sea to which he 
had lately been exposed. In her eyes, however, as they con- 
tinued bent on him, there dawned a light of memory, a tender- 
ness for that past which he personated. 

** The past ! '* he said after her, but with a more dreamy 
intonation, and nodded at his private thoughts. 

"Why did you never answer any of my letters ?*' he asked 
abruptly, when they had drunk. 

Her face, while her silence lasted, appeared very expressive, but 
yet diflBcult to read. "How could I have done that?^* she 
finally replied, looking down at her hand, which formed the 
bread crumbs into a little ball. She suddenly threw this under 
the table, and looked up. " The part of the little governess who 
entraps the heart of the son of the house against the projects of 
the family was never a part which I would have consented to 

play-'' 

"How long I hoped I might get word from you! I was 
horribly in earnest, you know. I would n^t give up when I 
realized that no matter how many letters I wrote I should get 
no answer. I could nH make up my mind that you would 
under no circumstances have me. When one wants a thing so 
much, you know . . .*' 

She looked gentle compassion for that poor lover of long ago. 

" It was my dream to make a roaring success and post over 
after you. I doubt now that I could ever have made that success. 
But anyhow my uncle took me into his business. I thought I 
should get rich quicker in that way. Then you utterly dis- 
appeared, and the next I heard was from Patdine, who saw you 
in Paris and asked who you were, and they told her Princess 
Elaguine.'' 



410 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" But at that time you were already married/* 

*'Ye8. The night before my wedding I burned your rose. 
Your rose, do you remember? '* 

*' A rose you had stolen? ** 

^^No, that you had given me. I had stolen other trifles, 
and those went into the bonfire at the same time . . . But you 
oughtn't to wonder if, happily married as I am, when I meet 
you again, and feel that you are not happy, I care to hear 
about it, and want immensely, if I can, to help. There was 
a time when my one wish in the world was to give you every- 
thing I could lay hands on, just sweep in everything I could 
reach and lay it with myself at your feet. And though all 
has turned out so different, and I know I have every reason 
to bless my stars, does one ever quite forget such things? 
Ought one to, do you think?** 

" Ah, you are good ... If all men were like you !...** She 
breathed a little sigh, propped her head on her hand, and let 
the expressive eyebrows finish her sentence, to the effect that the 
problems of women would in that case be simplified. With the 
fork in her other hand she was arranging on her plate a design 
out of pink and green fragments plastered with mayonnaise, 
which she had taken to encourage him to take more, but now 
could not eat. " It is not that I am too proud to talk of the 
failure of my life. No, all my pride has been crushed and 
destroyed ... It is that I think people who complain are bores, 
des ennuyeux. And I can hardly tell the truth about my life 
without complaining, a little, — blaming, accusing somebody, for 
wherever I have come to harm it has been, I grieve to say, 
either through the lack of moral sense, or the folly, the ex- 
travagance, the ambition, the jealousy and violence of others . . . 
Men I I have not had much to praise myself of them! Yon 
are, my dear Floy, a remarkable exception. — Nina,*' she turned 
to the maid, waiting beside the dresser, " you may change the 
plates. Place the whole of the dessert on the table and bring 
in the coffee, with the little spirit-lamp. Then you may go." 

" But your sympathy is, as I feel, so sincere, so real,** she 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 411 

returned to the subject, "that it inclines me to be frank, at 
the risk even of being a bore . . /^ She lifted to her lips a 
tiny dip of whipped cream at the end of a long cialdone, which 
is a hollow cylinder of thinnest pastry, to be used as a spoon 
which you bite ofiE as you go. "My difficulties now are not 
such as cannot be discussed from delicacy of feeling!'' she 
ironically laughed. " The sentimental, the passional, difficulties 
are over, I render grace to Heaven! I live as you see alone, 
definitely separated, though not legally, from the man whose 
obstinate wrong-headedness and unbridled ambition they were 
which made me a beggar, and whose jealousy and brutality 
afterwards rendered life with him an impossibility. My diffi- 
culties are of the most prosaic ... So much so that I hesitate 
to speak of them on this evening which borrows a ray of poetry 
from the past, and I would not do it but that it is the sole 
occasion I shall have, since you leave to-morrow. And I so 
often and so pressingly feel the need to discuss my affairs with 
a man, a man who has a good head. I need counsel, guidance 
. . . For we poor women, you know, at the best, with our Uies 
de linottes, when it comes to affairs. . . .'' 

" Your difficulties are really of the simplest,'' was the remark 
of Madame de Segovia's business adviser, when he had been 
made the recipient of her confidence, which comprised some- 
thing of personal history along with a description of her financial 
position. He leaned back and started a fresh cigarette. 
" Beally of the simplest. I should class them, indeed, as diffi- 
culties of the first category." 

" Yes, the formula of the solution is simple • . .'* Discover- 
ing that her own cigarette had gone out, she also reached for an- 
other, " But the execution difficult in the extreme ! " 

" The formula is not more simple in this case than the exe- 
cution. What am I here for? You need capital, and all I 
ask is that I may be allowed to furnish it. Please let not the 
difficulties be of your own making! Listen a moment. You 
have done me the honor to tell me the condition of your affairs. 



412 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Add this to the honor — that you let me be of use to you. It 
sounds too flat^ saying that I shall never miss the amount you 
need. I prefer to say that I consider it a contemptible sum to 
pay for the rose you gave me in Cannes, with all the dreams that 
himg thereby, and now this unexpected, this exquisite evening 
you have given me . . .'* 

She was silent a long minute, looking fixedly into a candle- 
flame which her eyes had selected from among the dozen. ** Yon 
are mistaken,'' she then spoke quietly, ''if you think I shall 
make difficulties. The fatigue of the long effort to keep my 
head above water is too great for that I shall refuse a plank 
which is tendered to me. And you, you are such, my friend, 
that you deserve from a woman the compliment that she shall 
trust you. Because I honor you so very much it shall be that 
I accept this from you, — this loan, which we must arrange 
according to rule, with the securities, and the engagement on 
my part to pay at fixed dates the interest . . .'* 

" All that shall be just as you prefer,'* he hurriedly fell in, 
but his smile betrayed an ulterior thought. " I wish above all 
that you should feel under no shadow of obligation. Call it 
a loan, call it what you please. But to me it 's going to be 
an automobile which I bought one day and smashed the next. 
And to you, if you have the smallest regard for me, it shall be 
a box of fiowers I sent you after dining at your house, which 
faded in a day or two and which you forgot.'' 

'* But no I But no ! " She held her hand a minute to her 
eyes, like one whose thoughts reel. *' It is impossible to be so 
generous ! My friend, the man does not live who can be so mag- 
nificent with so much simplicity ! It takes you, you, Floy, to 
press a gift so royal with such delicate respect. N"o, I am not 
accustomed since a long time to such usage! It confuses, be- 
wilders me. Aware as I am that there is nothing I can offer 
in return, I must not be overwhelmed by a gift of such magni- 
tude. Let it be as I have said. Let me think of it as a loan, 
or I shall find myself not able to breathe beneath the burden of 
the benefit. What I can promise is, my dear Ploy, that I will 



\ 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILI^A 413 

not let the thought of payment trouble my sleep^ and that I 
shall not, very probably, be prompt to pay . . /* 
" Have it your own way, then. But you understand ? . . /* 
" Yes, my good friend, I have understood . . . that you are 
not as others are. I shall to-night for the first time in long 
years go to sleep with sweetness in my heart, and a renewed 
belief in the existence possible of disinterested goodness in a 
man/' 

She rose, all luminous with fine feeling, and rewarded him 

vith a wide, direct, and plainly legible look of trust and esteem. 

Such joy was at her heart that she could have shouted and 

clapped her hands. But that was not in her part. Though 

her gratitude was as real as the human blood dancing with 

glad turbulence through her arteries, her part demanded that 

the expression of it fit the picture, be subdued, gentle, emu . . . 

^' We have sat so long that our smoke has made the air dim," 

she said, relieving him of her fixed and shining gaze, the prize of 

chivalry. She unlatched the balcony door and parted the Persian 

blinds. '^Yes, it is a beautiful night, warm, and the stars all 

visible. Shall we not go out to breathe the pure air? " 

He followed her, they leaned side by side on the stone rail, 
and silently for a few minutes enjoyed the night. 

The stillness was broken by footsteps drawing near and the 
voices of a group of friends passing down the lamp-lit street on 
their way home after an evening of pleasure. Camilla bent 
her ear to catch their words. "Me, the third act did not 
satisfy me.'* — "The intreccio however . . .'* — "Hear Sandro's 
criticism . . /' A murmur and then a laugh • • • 

They were gone, the street was empty, but for a man across 
the way who must have forgotten his key to the portone, and 
was waiting to be let in. 

Floy, with head thrown far back, looked between the banks 
of darkened houses up at the deep blue canal of the sky with 
its starry headlights of invisible gondolas, and Camilla with- 
drew her attention from the street to bestow it on him. 
" Italy I " He took a long breath of the balmy air, and sighed 



414 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

it out, "This wonderful Italy!** Then bringing his eyes 
back to level, ^^ There is just one thing I wish you would tell 
me, princess. Queer, but I should like to know . . /' He kept 
her curiosity a moment in suspense. ^' Did n't you care for me 
one little bit there at Cannes? You don't know how I used 
to try to make myself believe that you did, that you must 
have done so, to come out in the garden for me, like that . . . 
It 's foolish now, of course, — I acknowledge, in fact, that it 's 
rather low in me to ask. But there would be real satisfaction 
in setting to rest that old doubt . . .*' 

She did not at once answer. Her aimless eyes were on Uie 
man across the way, sole human figure in the deserted street, and 
while she was evolving her reply the casual thought stirred at 
the back of her head that he would find it hard to rouse the 
porter now he had gone to bed. Floy while he waited watched 
her. She so turned after a moment that the candles indoors 
illumined one-half of her face, which did not, however, en- 
lighten him as to her past emotions any more than did the 
half in shadow. She looked at him with the smile and eyes 
of a lovely and indulgent sphinx. 

"Is this quite fair?" she asked, very, very kindly. "And 
would my answer in reality give you all the satisfaction yon 
think ? Eefiect. Knowing that it is within the power of persons 
to say what they find convenient, would you afterwards trust 
to my answer, given under circumstances which you might 
reasonably fear had influenced it? No, I will not relieve your 
desire to know by giving you a second uncertainty added to 
the first . . . How does it matter what took place in the heart 
of that poor and lonely young girl long ago? What dreams 
on her side, what gratitude for a little aflEection . . . Have you 
not this to know with certainty, that the woman she became 
will treasure the thought of you, cherish your image, among the 
most sacred remembrances kept in the warmest part of her 
heart?" 

The gesture natural to the Italian speaking these words was 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 415 

an extended, illustrative hand. Floy softly took it when she 
stopped, and raised it to his lips ... 

The thing which happened as he was lifting his sleek and 
shapely head from this act of knightly devotion, startled Floy 
almost as much as the voyager is startled when his smoothly 
progressing craft crashes into a submerged rock . . . What on 
earth could be the meaning of it? . . . Camilla grabbed his 
coat-lapel so as almost to tear it, and pulled him stumbling 
down a stair or two into the room. 

While he stared with relaxed jaw, she stood, hands cramped 
over her heart, teeth set in her underlip, her eyes exhibiting 
a ring of white around the dark ball. 

''That man . . /' she gasped as soon as she could get the 
breath for it, " that man over the way ... is my husband ! '* 



CHAPTEB VIII 

WELL?*' inquired Floy, to whom a momenfB groping 
cogitation had bronght little clearness. 

^^ What is he doing there? '' She grasped her head as if to 
hold on to her power of thinking. ^ I believed him to be in 
Montecarlo.^ 

'TTou are quite sure it was he?** 

She let out an expressive, ^' Oh I . . .'^ and followed it in 
a second, ^He looked up. The street-lamp showed him pe^ 
fectly.'* 

" But need you be so deeply alarmed ? *' 

Again she made an eloquent sound, then crept nearer to the 
window and cautiously peeped between the balusters of the 
balcony-rail. ** Yes. He is still there. . . • What shall I do?'' 

" May he not simply be looking for your house ? " 

"He must have seen us on the balcony. We were standing 
against the light. Now he will wait there for you to come out/' 

" Please let that not trouble you. I think I can take care of 
myself. I had better go at once.*' 

" Never in the world ! The cane he carries has inside of 
it a sword. What have I told you of his jealousy, his bru- 
tality?" 

" Don't think of me, please. I can manage. But for yonr- 
self . . /' 

" It is not for myself so much that I am frightened. I have 
great power over him, though not enough to protect a man of 
whom he is jealous. In South America once . . . Oh, what ami 
to do ? I must be quick, for I fear he saw that I saw him . . /' 

" Would n^t the most natural thing to do be to call to him 
and invite him to come in? '* 

416 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 417 

^ Yes ! And find us like this ! " She laughed ironically, as 
by a sweeping^gestnre she called to his attention the room with 
all its pretty preparation, its festive multitude of flowers, the 
picturesque disorder of its confidential little table. 

*'But after aU ..." 

" Yes I And me in this dress ! '' 

"But . . :' 

''And you ... as you are! No I I know him. It cannot 
he. Oh, oh, I fear what he may do . . /^ She again clasped 
her forehead. "Listen. I have thought.'* She spoke with 
the smart decision of a general. " There is in the antechamber 
a wardrobe. In that you must enter for a few minutes. I 
will then call him, as if I had at the moment discovered his 
presence. I will myself open and bring him in here. When 
you hear this door close, it will be a signal to you to come from 
yonr hiding and without the least noise let yourself out and 
go home . . . After that, I can provide. When I have him 
alone I can do with him what I please, — it has always been 
80. I will say that my aged uncle has been dining with me 
from whom I hope to inherit, and that he has just left me to 
go to the upper story where he has his habitation . . .** 

Floy had sat down. A look was on his face at once help- 
less and mulish. "My dear sweet lady, I'm sure I don't 
want to make things difScult for you, but I 'm not going to hide 
in a wardrobe." 

" Just for five minutes. Ploy." 

"Thank you, no. — If there's going to be a scandal — ^" he 
said it as if he saw the whole thing slightly as a joke, "it's 
not going to be that kind of scandal." He got up. " Let me 
simply walk down the stairs as I walked up, and go out at 
the front door as I came in. I don't believe anything will 
happen. I 'U take the chance. I '11 be ready for him, anyhow." 

" Oh, we are losing time . . ." 

" Good-night, then." 

"No. You know not what you are doing. Wait! . . ." 
After a look which told him what an absolutely incomprehensible 



418 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

fool he was to her^ she shnt her eyes tight, and stood once more 
wreathing her head with her hands, in an effort after mental 
concentration and clarity. 

'^ Wait where you are I '^ she commanded, and hnrried from 
the room. 

Floy folded his arms, and found his jaws laughing, while iis 
brows frowned and his throat cursed. A pretty howdedo! A 
respectable business man, traveling with his young son, and 
visiting his prim little sister-in-law, to be landed in a situation 
of the sort • • • 

" After we 've been so damned exemplary, too ! '^ he ludicrously 
groaned. 

In three minutes he heard a rustling and a murmur beyond 
the door. Camilla entered preceding a flustered little woman 
who was still adjusting on herself a long spangled garment, and 
a very young, but very composed yoimg man, in evening dress. 
(Heaven kindly granted that Ernesto should have just come in 
from the theater.) Without taking time to introduce her 
friends, Camilla changed the places of various dishes and things^ 
to what purpose Floy did not apprehend until she pushed toward 
the table two more chairs. She drew off to see that it all looked 
natural, then with a wave of the hand to signify that the curtain 
was about to rise, let them be ready with their parts, she 
stepped out on the balcony. 

They heard her voice, in a surprised, joyful, singing tone, 
** Manuel, is it you? But what do you then there? But come 
up, then ! But quick ! Come then quick ! '* 

She reentered the room, crossed it and leaving wide the door 
to the unlighted antechamber went to open the door which 
gave admission from the stairs. There she waited, in sight of 
her company, for what seemed a long time. Both men were 
keenly at watch, muscles like bent springs. 

They saw her, with a glad little cry, **But there you are 
then ! ^ place her hands on the shoulders of an entering man, 
and press against him for a second; then laughing pass her 
arm through his and draw him toward them and the brighter 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 419 

light. Never did woman greet her returning lord with prettier 
effusiveness^ more correct wifely conduct, whether sincere, or 
affected to avoid the bad taste of letting the world into Iheir 
domestic affairs. 

** My husband/' she presented him. *' My cousins, Contessa 
Beltrame and her son. Lord Dragonsblood . . . My husband I '^ 

Without a sound the husband bowed to each in turn, and 
let a full brown eye, very slightly blood-shot, roll slowly and 
casually over them, slowly and casually around the room, while 
on Camilla fell the whole burden of keeping off an embarrassing 
silence. 

*^ To think I . . • We are here, like that, still conversing at 
the end of our dinner • • • I had only a little before told Lord 
Dragonsblood, who is but passing through Florence on a diplo- 
matic mission, that you were in Montecarlo ... I go to the 
balcony under the impression that I have heard distant thunder 
. . . No, it is all stars, but in the street what do I see? . . . 
Was it you, Manuel, who made the thunder because you could 
not readily find the number you sought? But what an idea 
also not to write ! Not to announce your coming ! '* She led 
him by the hand to the divan where she seated herself at his 
side. "When, my dear, did you arrive?'* 

" A few hours ago.*' 

" Have you dined, my friend? *' 

By a motion of his hand he made that point of no im- 
portance. 

" Oh, but you must take something . . .'* She jumped up 
again, full of solicitude. 

"I believe, Madame/' Lord Dragonsblood came offering his 
hand, "that I will say good-night ... A charming evening, 
hm I ... A very great pleasure, hm !...'* 

"Too amiable by far I And yon leave for England to- 
morrow?'* 

"By way of Switzerland." 

"It must be adieu then. If you should again come to our 
Florence, forget not that we shall be charmed • . ." 



420 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

** Ton are very kind. Senor de Segovia . . /' 

The two men bowed to each other. The parting guest tak- 
ing leave of the Gontessa, wondered if he could be as fiumy in 
his part as she in hers. Dragonsblood ! Wherefore Dragons- 
blood rather than Biddlemeright, or^ in fact> Northmere? 
Long afterwards he was to chance upon the name in a colonnen^s 
catalogue and grin reminiscently at the mad comedy of that 
Florentine night. 

Ernesto ceremoniously accompanied the noble diplomat to the 
head of the stairs and held a light for him to descend by. 

*'We also, dear Camilla, will now give you the good-night," 
the Contessa moved to leave as soon as her son had rejoined 
her. Gallicizing her Florentine till it was as good French as 
she was capable of, " We are very charmed to see you in our 
city, in our house, Monmi" she addressed the unlooked-for guest, 
but she did not say much more, for Camilla threw an arm 
around her in affectionate good-night and sped her along, fol- 
lowed by the little young man cousin. This one from the door 
made a beautiful bow to the remaining gentleman, and in 
shaking hands with the wife dropped a single word so as to be 
heard of her alone. " Rimangof" which meant, "Shall I re- 
main outside in the antechamber, in case you should need 
help ? '^ She replied, also inaudibly to any but him, that no, 
it imported not. 

** Enfin sevls!" sighed Camilla, in a rather breathless little 
laugh, when she had been standing for a few seconds with her 
back to the closed door. Her lips were stiff and her smile was 
intense. 

Manuel was on his feet at the other side of the room. She 
had again fleetingly the impression of the first moment, that 
she looked at him through a magnifjdng glass; he seemed to 
her larger than she remembered, and not, altogether, so trim. 

She waited for him to speak, but he looked at her unspeak- 
ing, he also perhaps interested in the difference made by two 
years. Or perhaps . . . Totally uncertain from his expression, 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 421 

which was no expression at all, what might he his mood, she 
stood uncertain what to do. In that cold spot which there 
had been in her heart ever since she recognized him, she asked 
herself a little wildly whether it would not have been safer, 
after all, to beg Ernesto be at hand. Might she not hope that 
Floy was chivalrously lingering within caU? 

One thing was sure. She must not stand like a statue and 
allow him to study her. Calling upon all the mysterious powers 
of her soul and being, she moved towards him, with her eyes 
on his. Nearer she came, while he did not stir to meet her. 
Impossible to decide from her face, fixed in a faint smile, and 
from her soft, steady approach, whether she were the one hypno- 
tizing or the one hypnotized. 

With a spring she reached his breast and threw her arms 
around his neck. Instantly she felt his arms pressing her to 
the point of crushing out her breath. "Ah, mechante! Me^ 
chante!'* he cried over and over, between kisses that had the 
violence of a storm. 

And Camilla, — it was very strange, — all the strength went 
out of her. She lay against him, like a doll, with closed eyes. 
She had suddenly not one care, not one concern in the world. 
All the projects and hopes of a life were annulled, as were the 
troubles and fears, in the simple destiny of being mysteriously 
and blessedly absorbed, taken up into him, and ceasing to have 
an independent existence at all . . . 

When he sat down, she slid to the floor by his knees, — for 
the first time, it had always been he who sat at her feet. He 
held her face by one hand under her chin, to look his fill. 
'* You have grown thin . . .'* 

**You are surprised?'* She gave a small laugh, but felt 
extraordinary tears welling up in her eyes. "You, monsieur, 
the same is not your case . . . You say thin! You do not by 
any chance mean less beautiful?" 

She looked at him straight, wilfully lovely and challenging. 

"No! More beautiful than ever I'* he sighed, as if it were 
a matter for unbounded regret. 



422 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

^^ Ah, you man bo heavy of wit ! It took you a long time 
to make up your mind to come I '* 

**A cruel game, Diane/' 

"I will admit it But you had deserved it. When one 
offends me, I revenge myself. You are jealous, so you know 
what it is. I am jealous, too.'' 

" Jealous? Will you tell me in Heaven'8 name of whom?" 

"You sang in Berlin with Juliette Beaucard6. Gossip 
reached me about the two of you . . ." 

"Juliette Beaucard6? . . . But, folle, she has far other 
thoughts in these days, do you not know it? Even if I had 
not other thoughts, too. Heard you not a word concerning the 
arch-duke? No, you had no excuse. There has been nothing, 
since we parted, nothing you would condescend to be jealous of! 
If one could love because it seemed to him a good way of pass- 
ing the time ! . • . But I, for my misfortune, was never like 
that. You were locked in my heart, even when I was not 
thinking of you, you kept the others out." 

" You had behaved badly to me, Manuel, all the same, and, 
Juliette Beaucard6 or none, my revenge was just. So I gave 
you a bad half hour, did I ? . . . You gave me so many that, as 
you see, I have grown thin. Suppose, I said to myself, suppose 
he should never understand at all ! Manuel, I never thought you 
were so slow . . . When was it you first began to understand?" 

'^ Bete I am, it is true! I did not really understand until 
the moment of seeing you. But I had read your detestable 
letter more than once, and there would be instants when it 
sounded all so insincere, so false, I could not believe it was 
you who had written it. It was like an impossible bad dream. 
And yet there it was before me, in your own handwriting . . • 
But yesterday suddenly it took me like that. ... I felt I must 
come and find out at all events what they were, those other 
interests, of which you so candidly spoke as having supplanted 
me in your thoughts . . . what their shape and style and the 
color of their beard . . ." 

"Ha, ha! So it was jealousy, too, in your case.'' 



\ 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 423 

"Yes, and with it perhaps, too, a little, that sense of the 
insincerity of your letter, a necessity to make sure . . . Diane, 
how could you do it? '* 

" Hush ! We have both something to forgive ! *' 

"Which reminds me, Madame . . • What is this pink and 
beardless English lord ? '* 

" Oh, a very slight acquaintance of my cousin's. But you 
know the obligation one feels toward foreigners of distinction 
passing through one's city, that call to do the honors . . . My 
cousin moreover seeing how sad and troubled I was, desired to 
find something which would force me to shake off my melancholy 
for a few hours, and so she devised to entertain this almost 
stranger at a little dinner/' 

" I know of old, my fair little Diane, that I must not always 
believe what you tell me . . . What was he saying to you out 
on the balcony when he took your hand?" 

"What? You were already there when he stood for a few 
minutes on the balcony with me ? " 

"Yes, Madame." 

"But you were mistaken, dear. He did not take my hand. 
It was I who gave my hand to him. He had told me with all 
modesty an instance of bravery on his part, in India, at a time 
of cholera. At the end of it I said, ^I should like to shake 
hands with you!' Then all at once we hear a scream from 
inside, where my stupid young cousin is playing a foolish joke 
on his mama, and we precipitate ourselves into the room . . ." 

" Humph ! " 

"So you had come. Monsieur Mezzanotte, in the charming 
idea of finding me with a lover and perhaps killing us both?" 

" All three, Diane." 

"And then, when you came into the room, you hesitated, 
I suppose, because you were uncertain which three." 

" When I came into the room I felt an imbecile. I first had 
the impression then of having allowed a trick to be played on 
me. I had only to see you to be sure that your letter had 
been a lie and you were the same to me as ever. A letter may lie. 



424 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLl 

the lips may lie, even the eyes sometimes can lie ... But there 
is something abont the total of a person, something speaking 
froDi the poreSy as it were, of the one to the pores of tl^ other, 
which does not lie. You were frightened, though, like one with 
a bad conscience, and I only waited to be alone with you to 
frighten yon a little more, jnst a little more, my bad little 
Diane, to punish you for your wickedness.^ 

^^ But there was not time for that, was there ? We weie in too 
great haste to be in each other's arms.'' 

He lifted her and throned her on his knee, and folded bei 
dose. ^^ The old perfume ! '' he sighed. 

" But yes, since I was expecting you I '* 

It seemed to her that she really had been — that she must 
have been, expecting him. What so inevitable as that he would 
come? 

'^ But the dinner which you have done without ? Are yon not 
famished?'' 

She left him to hunt for eatables on the table and sideboard. 
'^ Gome ! Here is almost abundance, though not of a very sub- 
stantial sort. Whipped cream, and much fruit, cheese, grisaini, 
the whole of a fine cake, a little wine fortunately still in the 
bottle, a little coffee too in the machine, which I will heat for 
you . . . Come, sit here, I will serve you." 

"Where are we, Diane?" 

"You mean, in whose house? My cousin's. I come here 
frequently, and my cousin often retains me for the night. This 
has always been my room, but it is used just now as a dining- 
room, for the reason that in the larger, more formal dining-room 
is a scaffolding raised, where a painter is restoring the master- 
piece on the 'ceiling." 

"And what is Villa Clelia, which is the address you gave 
me?" 

** You went there?" 

^ Yes, a carriage from the hotel took me." 

^ Whom did you see ? " 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 425 

** A woman^ a servant, I think, with whom I had difficulty in 
*=^aldng myself nnderstood, but I obtained from "her finally, on a 
^iece of paper, the address of this house/' 

*' Villa Clelia is the house of my foster-family, for whom I 
^lade generous provision long ago, and who in their humble way 
^ve prospered. They are greatly attached to me, and I love the 
^uiet, the modest peace of their home as much as Marie An- 
i^inette loved the occupations of her dairy. So when I am 
ireary, and that is very often, of the splendor and movement of 
my uncle's house, where I actually live, I take refuge with them. 
Did you remark — but you must have done so, I think, one can 
nardly be in Florence two or three hours without remarking it, 
— a great, square, frowning palace of brown stone, solid as a 
fortress, on Via Tomabuoni, not far from the river? My 
father's sister married in the Strozzi family, and it is there with 
:hem I live . . . But they are indulgent to the love for a sim- 
Dle life that lately possesses me, and permit me to leave them 
whenever I wish for that calm and sympathetic retreat, Villa 
■^lelia.'' 



^ 

u 



You will have to say good-by to all that, all the same, — 
;ho8e elegances and decencies, infamous little woman, to which 
^ou grandly tell me you are accustomed.'* 

" Yes," she talked small, " the sole elegance to which I will 
low aspire shall be your, white cravat, which I will tie with my 
iwn hands." 

'* It 's all very well to say that what I wanted in our bargain 
wsa your heart. Your heart, my fine lady, is in your body, and 
;he law gives me both. I am going to carry them off to New 
fork with me." 

** When Mezzanotte decides to do that, I give up all thought 
^f resistance. Am I allowed meanwhile to steal a sip of coffee 
Mit of your cup?" 

** Ah, Diane! . . ." 

** Yes, my love." 

** How could you, than whom there is not a sweeter woman in 
Hie world, be more inhuman than the worst? " 



426 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

" Hush ! . . . Let me whisper it in your ear. The secret is 
that^ at bottom, I love you too much, Manuel ! Love takes a 
terrible form sometimes . • ^ 

** A terrible form, you have said it ! '* 

" Did you not come here prepared to kill me ? Was it because 
you loved me no longer? . • • And I may again, it is conceiv- 
able, hurt you . . /' 

"Nol No!'' 

"But it will only be because I love you too much. Please 
remember that when you have murdered me.*' 

" Never again ... It is only when I think I have not your 
heart that the wish comes upon me so strong to kill you.^^ 

" And you doubt not at this moment that you have it.^' 

" At this moment I am too happy for the earth, because I 
know, whatever else is a lie, this is not : Diane loves me ! ^' 

" Oh, if I could think that your love, Manuel . . .'' 

** I will not contend with you in words. Dare to say that you 
are my match at kisses ! *' 

". . . Help me, cheri, to convey these many flowers out on to 
the balcony. Their fragrance is too heavy in the night . . • 
We must make a little haste, beloved, to do it, for the candles, 
see, are burning so low already that in a few minutes more they 
will be consuming these very old, very precious church candle- 
sticks, which are but painted wood . . .'* 

** Diane ! *' his drowsy call drew her from sleep in the small 
hour when the night was black around them as a pall, " Diane!'' 
His voice had new intonations, lamentable at once and caressing' 
" Let us die together ! Why do we wish to live ? It is not in 
nature that we should continue so happy. You will again do 
things to make me curse the day, I know it, I feel it . . . I^t 
us die while we are so happy in each other, so at one ... Will 
you? Come! We have been happy, what do we want more? 
Let us rise while it is dark, and slip to the river, and leap into 
it close embraced . . .'* 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 427 

^^ Hush, my love ! " She gave him a pat, as to a baby. " You 
offend God • . . Go to sleep ! '' 

A little light was creeping through the green blades of the 
blinds when Camilla came definitely awake and forbade herself 
to go to sleep again. 

" How large, how warm, how heavy, is a man's head ! *' she 
thought, and very softly, very gradually, withdrew her shoulder 
from under the burden she loved, though she was cramped and 
lame from it, — lifted herself a little and contemplated it, able 
only to guess at the features, so far yet was the day. 

If only it had been a different world, a diflEerent planet, a dif- 
ferent order of things! If only everything had been different, 
he different, she different, — what sweeter destiny could be 
dreamed than to be together always, lover and beloved, both all 
the time at their best, in a world not hostile by its every provi- 
sion to such simple happiness ! 

Camilla while making these reflections was yet in no wise com- 
plaining of destiny. A great strength had returned into her 
heart, from the food it had so lately received. She was strong 
in victory and gratitude. What more would she have dared to 
ask of Heaven? Would she have dared to ask so much? . . . 
Convinced of sin and folly, confessing herself justly punished, 
she would not have had the boldness. Once more to see Manuel, 
to have him come at the miraculously apposite hour, to be to him 
still for one night the great enchantress, the lady without peer ! 
To place her stamp again firm and deep on his memory, to 
drink from that brimming cup he tendered, his unsophisticated 
heart. . . . After this she must do the thing there was to do 
without protest that it was hard, sure that she got immeasurably 
better than her deserts. 

To say that not for an instant the thought occurred to simply 
follow the mate, come of it what might, would be saying too 
much. But beneath it was the consciousness that this was no 
time for deciding upon a course, with the spell on her of his 



428 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

nearness, the confusion thrown among the council of reason 
and common-sense by the voice of the blood ... All must be 
pondered later. More immediate things were pressing on her, 
urgent to be dealt with. Monday was rising in the sky, Monday 
with its toil, its calls, its clients, its realities, ita revela- 
tiona. . • • 

The room was full of a pallid greenish-gray light when she 
shook him. ** You must be up, Manuelito, and you must catch 
your train. I have let you sleep till the last moment possible. 
Now, my love, you must haste.'* 

"What? What do you say? . . . Go? I must go? ... Go 
where?'* 

"But surely I . • . Are you still asleep? What are you dream- 
ing? You must first go to Hotel Minerva and get your effects, 
then to the station, where you will drink your coffee. I have cal- 
culated, and allowed just time for everything. Then you must 
take the early train to Glenoa, it leaves at the same hour the 
year round. You can be at Montecarlo before night. Tele- 
graph that you are coming. I will not have you breaking your 
contract with Bachert a second time. I will not have you in- 
juring your career, which is also my career. It is bad enough 
already that you missed last night . . . Left you any word?" 

" No, but Sarti knew.'' 

"You see, how lawless you arel It will have put them to 
every inconvenience. Now you must go back and excuse your- 
self. Say you had sudden news that I was dangerously ill. But 
you found me better, and I shall follow in a few dajrs. Get up, 
Manuelito ... I will help you to dress ... No! open not! 
The room is too disgusting with disorder. There is light 
enough, with me to find for you everything you need.'* 

What inordinate and ominous sunrise was fiaming over the 
eastern hills they could not see, but a singular, almost disquiet- 
ing brightness gradually invaded the room, refiection of gigantic 
fiery storm-clouds up-piled to the zenith. 

" We shall have rain, later in the day,'* she said, a little sadly, 
peering up through the shutters, *'but you will not mind it. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 429 



You will be comfortable and dry on your train^ going bo qnickly^ 
30 quickly away from me/' 

" How long before you join me, Diai\e ? Now mark — it must 
lot be long! To-morrow? The day after?'* 

** The third day, I think. Three days are not too much, to 
prepare. Expect me on Thursday.*' 

*^ Three days. That is said then, is it? If in three days I do 
lot see you, there is no contract that holds. I shall come back 
loT you. And then, Madame, I shall hurt you ! ** 

*' Yes, Mezzanotte. I wish you would eat me alive ! I should 
)e so at rest . . . Just a few atoms of me here, a few there, scat- 
tered in your blood and fiber . . . lost and safe ! ** 

** I will ! In that way I shall be sure of you at least . . .** 

*' Let me go I . . . We have no more time for these follies now, 
Sf anuel . • . Your tie, dear, let me make it into a beautiful 
oiot. I am sorry I cannot offer you breakfast here. It is too 
iarly still, the servants are not up. Listen well . . .When 
^ou go out at the door, you turn to the right. At the head of the 
street you turn to the left. On the piazza which you will in a 
moment reach you are sure to find a cab, which will take you to 
bhe Minerva . . . Forget not at least to look back and wave to 
me. I have allowed time for that.*' 

" In three days then, Diane? " 

*' In three days." 

''You swear?" 

^ My darling, what is there in this whole world, do you think, 
that I desire more than to be vrith you always, always with 
you . . ." 

**You see, Diane, how happy we can be! How happy we 
ehall^be always after this. See how all this night we have not 
quarreled once ! " 

" We are grown wiser, yes . . . Better, perhaps ! " 

She stood amid the vases full of fiowers on the balcony, in a 
flowing Oriental robe, blue, painted with a flight of herons, her 
hair loose, her feet in slippers. All the windows of the neighbor- 
hood were still tight sealed. 



430 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

She leaned over to see him come out at the door^ and then she 
threw kisses. 

He made a gesture she could not at first understand^ but after 
a moment, following his indications she felt among her hair, and 
touched a dead camellia. She pulled out the limp and yellowed 
thing and threw it down to him. 

When he had passed from sight beyond the comer, she saw that 
all the living color had gone from the clouds. In sullen rolls 
they lay across the melancholy Monday sky, dark with the threat 
of rain. She felt the premonitory chill. Her heart was heavy 
and insensible as lead. Her whole effort was to keep it so. 



/ 



CHAPTEE IX 

ON the day after, Camilla received from Ploy a registered 
envelope. On the same day she wrote to Manuel. For 
certain things which had been true on Saturday, and on Sunday 
lad admitted of doubt, by Tuesday were seen once more to be 
"true. 

It was a singular letter she sent him, — singular in the pa- 
thetic effort, while administering poison, to administer at the 
same time an antidote, singular in being at once so mendacious 
and so sincere. 

" You are expecting my telegram, to tell you by what train. 
When you receive this, your first thought will be, ' Something 
is wrong. If Diane writes, it must be to give her reasons for a 
delay.' What will you say, my poor Manuelito, when you learn 
that I am not coming, now or later ? Your first thought will be 
to rush to Florence, seize your prey and carry it, d la Mezzanotte, 
to your mountain-cave . . . But if you should come, you would 
not find me, or any trace of me. 

'^ I have been obliged to tell you so many lies that it would be 
useless to tell you the truth about this matter, which is a story 
80 extraordinary that I could not hope you would credit it. The 
conclusion of it is, however, that I am leaving with the man 
whom I called to you Lord Dragonsblood, that already when you 
receive this we shall be far out on the Mediterranean. You know 
not his real name, you know not the name of his yacht, it would 
be vain to attempt pursuit, were you so mad as to think of it. 

'* The most fantastic destiny that ever befell woman forces me 

to this, for, as you must feel, I do not go of my free choice. I 

431 



432 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

go — even as Ernani kills himself when he hears the horn of des- 
tiny. Circumstances have woven about me a net of steel of 
which I cannot succeed in breaking one link, and I succmnb 
to a power stronger than myself. 

** Very probably you will think all this a fabrication, it souncls 
like it, I own. The alternative is to believe that I do not join 
you as I promised because I do not wish to. And Manuel, 
reflect a little, remember . . . Can you think that ? I lied, be- 
cause I could not let you kill him or me and make yourself into 
a murderer, but one thing you know beyond possibility of doubt, 
that my tears and kisses were not lies. You know that my heart 
belongs to you and not to another man. . . . The strangest part 
of this so strange situation is that in dealing you this blow I am 
finally regarding your good. It is at the very bottom because I 
love you so much that I am leaving you ... Do not try to un- 
derstand, dear. You never could. 

** You will suffer, that is the worst of my suffering. But if you 
are just you will not reproach me. For what was it you used to 
ask of life in those old early days? One hour of happiness! 
Your wishes were limited to that: One single hour of hap- 
piness ! Manuel, I have given you many such hours. I have 
given you so much . . . Now, you are not going to be ungrate- 
ful. You are going to be calm, and good, you are going to say, 
' That poor Diane, in her mysterious fate ! Good angels stand 
by her, and wipe her tears, and stop the blood that flows from 
the wound in her heart.* 

'^ We shall be cruising, on and on, indefinitely, on all seas. It 
is what these English like. You could therefore never find me 
by searching. 

*' If in some port, at some time, the destiny which now parts ub 
should will that we meet, oh, Manuel, joy such as it is impossible 
to resist would sweep me into your arms. I should at last take 
seriously, I believe, your proposition that we die together . . . 

*' Qo with Sarti to the salle d^armes, dear, fence till you are all 
in a glow. Tell that good friend not to leave you alone. Go 
into conipany. Do all that one does to console oneself, to for- 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 433 

et. I permit yoti, my love, nay, I enjoin you to forget me. 
Inly if it should be more for your happiness to remember, do I 
ish you to say to yourself, day by day, 'There is Diane far 
way, in whose heart I am so lodged that when it is dust each 
torn will still love me! "* 



BOOK FIFTH 

XQBBIl 






CHAPTER I 

THE newly opened lace-shop on the Lungarno, near Ponte 
YeechiOy bore on its sign-board the name Bugiani. Bi- 
anca Bugiani was its nominal head^ and mostly to be found be- 
hind its counter. A definite taste was developing in her for 
making sales. 

" In five years, five years at the longest/* thought the actual 
head, in hopeful moments, '^ with a competent forewoman such 
as Antonietta promises to become, I shidl be able to leave the 
immediate oversight of the business. I will travel. . . .*' 
Travel, the only eflEective distraction outside of hard work! 
But there was not about the intention that lively eagerness 
which brings things quickly to pass. When the power to en- 
joy is dulled, one might as well be doing one thing as another, 
and doing it in one place as in another. The engrossment of 
^rork, the excitement of making money, are perhaps the best 
remedy still. 

Because she had not been able to find in the newspapers the 
thing she desired to know, Camilla stopped at Bicordi's one 
day in iiutumn, and asked if they could tell her, or procure for 
her the information, who were the singers that season at the 
Metropolitan, in New York. She had no difficulty in finding 
out, but it seemed impossible there should not be some mistake. 
Madame Morpurgo, she moreover learned, was for the moment 
in retirement. De Segovia, they knew not with certainly where 
he was singing, but it was positively not in New York. 

So he had not gone. Why ? . . . Not unlike him, to disdain 

the bait of money and refuse to go because, simply, he preferred 

some more familiar scene. He would have gone for her sake, — 

iS7 



438 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

he might be giving himself the luxury of scorning to take the 
inconyenience now that he was alone. She was sorry. She 
wanted him stilly so much^ to have a resounding success! 

How did he think of her? Of one thing only could she be 
certain. He thought her the mistress of an Englishman. She 
stopped as quickly as she could, always^ the sickness produced 
in her soul from considering this^ by calling upon her pride 
to rejoice at least that she lived in the pictures of his imagina- 
tion as strong enough yet in beauiy and power to command an 
Englishman of Floy Northmere^s aspect^ with the marks upon 
him of high condition and princely means. 

** Lies have short legs/' says an Italian proverb. The hob- 
bled feet of her last lie to Manuel often disquieted her. Irene 
was in touch both with Florence and Manuel. He might learn 
of her whereabouts still. He might start up before her in some 
hour when she was thinking of other things. ... 

Every passing month made it^ she thought, less likely. He 
was sure to come to the recognition that, whatever the truth, 
she had wished to be free from him. Explain it as he might, 
the fact was glaring. He would never return solely for re- 
venge. He would adjust himself. Time brings changes and 
relief. Some one before so very long, inevitably, would fill her 
place. ... 

There is a possibility, she discovered, when all one's strength 
and steadiness are needed for work, of shutting certain thoughts 
up in the attic, as it were, of the brain, and refusing to visit it 

Lace-making, watching the thing she had planted while it 
grew, accumulating money, and with the money carrying out 
a rather barren dream of wandering and expatriation, — such 
at best were the things that appeared to be on the cards for 
Camilla. 

A tame ending. If, when she was young, a caster of horo- 
scopes had foretold for her such an evening of life, and she 
had believed him, she would have prayed to die early. In 
middle age, things do not matter so much. Still, when Ca- 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 439 

inilla remembered what she had in her ambitious moments 
hoped, and what she was come to, it seemed to her that destiny 
had made a mistake, that she must be up and objecting, fight- 
ing, in the spirit of such a scene as follows a distribution of 
prizes when the most brilliant pupil is certain he has not re- 
ceived his due. 

These impulses of rebellion — in truth not too frequent or 
pressing, the struggle for success in commerce largely takes up 
the mental energies — were accompanied by the general rest- 
less feeling that she must do something. It is to those who 
help themselves that Heaven lends a hand. Positively, do some- 
thing! 

She could never cease to marvel how little she had had to do 
reaUy with the incident which deflected the stream of her life 
so that it cascaded after all into a different valley. 

** My whole future,** she became wont to say, " was changed 
by the fact that at a given moment I did not take a carriage. 
I was tired, and about to stop a passing fiacre, when I said to 
myself, ' No, I must not spend a franc when I am so perfectly 
well able to walk.'** 

It was one of those days of an Italian December which hold 
no menace for the roses blooming out of doors, the day when 
Camilla, turning her back on the temptation of a cab, proceeded 
homeward afoot. 

Crossing Piazza d'Azeglio, she had the impression of having 
passed some one she knew, or, better stated, a belated impres- 
sion of knowing a person whom she had just passed. She 
looked back. 

On one of the garden seats sat an octogenarian, in brown 
overcoat, white silk mufSer, silk hat. He leaned forward, 
with hands and chin propped on a cane, and let his small 
faded eyes follow after the children and nursery-maids with 
which the garden is daily populous. So has one seen an old 
cat behind a window-pane watching the sparrows come to pick 
on the sill. 



440 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

His mustache was long and dull brown, the ends of it 
drooped. Between his hat-brim and collar showed a semi- 
circle of hair, more brightly brown, by contrast with which 
his cheek looked shockingly devoid of pigment. Something a 
little sad there was in the precise shade of comic given by the 
youthful hair to the old figure, which was wholly dignified in 
spite of it. 

Camilla did not hesitate. ''Count Maril" she cried, re- 
turning in pleasant excitement to greet him, and as, while 
staring at the speaker, he did not repudiate the name, she went 
on vivaciously, ^'A meeting as agreeable as it is unexpected. 
Ah, you do not remember mel It is that way good people 
have of not letting one hand know the kind acts of the other. 
They forget their good deeds! Let me refresh your memory. 
There was once a little girl, Camilla Bugiani, bom in your 
house. Villa del Bruco, while her parents were in your em- 
ployment You sent her to a beautiful school. To you she 
owes everything she has become, for that advantage you gave 
her of a superior education. Do you remember now ? *^ 

He narrowed his eyes to look at her searchingly, even sus- 
piciously. *'Yes, I remember,** he said. "But how old are 
you? You look too young 1** He said it seriously, and 
after that did not regard her directly, but by a fieeting side- 
glance now and then. 

" Always gallant ! . . . But I cannot accept the complimeni 
No, it is only for you that the years stand still. I saw you 
last in Bome, I shudder to think how long ago, and I knew 
you just now at first glance, though I was thinking, God knows, 
of far other things.** 

He responded by an unrelated saying. "I have had the 
sorrow since that time of losing my son.** 

*' Believe me, I was deeply grieved to hear of the death of that 
brave and distinguished officer. A noble death, on the fields 
I understand, in the service of his coimtry.** 

The father gave the sigh called for by the occasion. 

"If he had been left to me . . .** he began, and completed 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 441 

the sentence by a head-shake^ threatening rather than mourn- 
ful, of not very clear significance. 

'^ Yon are fortunate in the care and affection of one remain- 
ing child/' Camilla promptly brought in the comforting word. 
*' The Signora De Santis is, I hope^ in good health.'^ 

''La Rezia. . . . Pf! — Pf! — '^ he muttered, and kept the 
rest of his thinking visibly to himself, continuing to shake 
his head and slightly to hoist his shoulders^ as he let out re- 
peated sounds of Pf! — Pf! — 

Camilla thought it discreet to drop the subject. ^^ So you 
are once more doing Florence the honor ... ?*' 

** Since yesterday. I arrived yesterday .'* 

"Ah. ... If your absence has been long — as had been 
mine, before I returned, not altogether three years ago, — you 
will find Florence sadly changed. Yes, — so many changes! 
So much building outside the barriers, so many new electric 
lines, the beautiful villas on the hills bought by foreigners, 
prices gone up till every person's manner of living, rich or 
poor, has had to be modified. . . .'' 

Camilla never believed — and she had experience to uphold 
her — that her pretty woman's chatter could fail to be found 
agreeable by any man whom she gave herself the trouble of 
trying to entertain. She went on talking to Count Mari for 
some time, satisfied that he attended at least with one ear, and 
was sensible of her amiability, though his eyes none too covertly 
ranged. 

At a pause which awaited an answer of some sort, he 
said, "Dear lady, will you be so kind as to look around a 
little, with your younger eyes, and tell me if you see my 
valet?" 

"With pleasure. Certainly. What description of man?" 

" A rogue vrith a shaven face and a brown pot-hat. An ugly 
pock-marked rogue." 

"I do not see him." 

"I sent him with a note to deliver, and said, 'I will wait 
here in the sun.' And now the sun has gone behind the houses. 



442 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

and he is not back. He has stopped to see a sweetheart^ while 
I am taking cold.'' 

"I hope not! The change in the air is hardly perceptible 
yet.'' 

^* I would like to go from here^ and let him come for me, 
and not find me^ the miscreant ! " His voice shook with an- 
noyance. 

"Can I be of service? . . ." 

"If you would give me your arm, Camilla — pardon the 
liberty, I know not your other name." 

" Oh, to you I am Camilla, — Camilla always." 

" If you would give me your arm. . . ." 

Before they had gone from the garden, one of the Mamas 
came toward them, — what is called in Florence a "fine piece 
of woman," with a waddling walk. 

" Bezia is like that ! " said the Count with a nod in her 
direction, and when they had passed her, he in unaccountable 
excitement demeaned himself to take a few steps in imitation 
of a stout woman's gait, while with an arm curved before him 
he indicated her dimensions. 

** Antipatica!** he delivered himself with singular intensity,, 
as he dropped the ugly bit of comedy. 

After that he spoke no more, but with feeble, shuflSing step 
trudged along, shut in mysterious indignation, and Camilla 
when she perceived that he was wholly inattentive, dropping 
the eflPort to make herself agreeable, gave her mind silently to 
such things as were puzzling her. 

From these she was more and more won by uneasiness, a 
growing impression that her companion was not well, the shock- 
ing fear finally that he might be preparing an attack of some 
sort. . . . 

And not a cab in sight! 

He looked cadaverous, he was breathing hard, but had still 
no consciousness apparently of anything but that cause for 
smothered and poisoning wrath which was interfering with the 
action of his heart. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 443 

Glad she was to reach his door, — the great wide-open door 
into the archway that had at its other end a wrought-iron gate 
backed with plates of metal, above which an airy outlet for the 
eyes into beautiful tree-tops and spaces of sky. She knew the 
noble entrance well, she had so often slowed in her walk when 
passing it, and wondered whether the master ever came there 
any more. 

The porter would be at hand, she hoped, to assist the Count 
up the stairs. But only a yoimg girl presented herself, who 
explained, *' Grandfather is above!'* 

Taking time they climbed the broad easy steps, the Coimt 
stopping now and then to reach for breath, with the eflfect still 
of not noticing his own condition, because of preoccupying 
indignation. 

The door was opened by the porter in his shirt-sleeves. 
" The signor conte! Excuse me, signer conte. You find me in 
the midst of lending a hand. . . ." 

The antechamber, lighted only by a glass fan above the door, 
was in semi-darkness. 

** He feels little well,'* Camilla whispered to the man, who at 
once took the Coimf s other arm and they guided him to a bed- 
chamber. 

What to do? The house contained only servants, not proper 
servants even. The old familiars, porter and wife, had turned 
to, and aided by a second woman were doing something toward 
setting to rights the vast apcurtment, xminhabited for years, 
entered at long intervals only to air and dust. A faint odor of 
wood-smoke and frying fat, of which she got a wandering whiff, 
informed Camilla that there was at least in the kitchen a 
cook. 

"What shall we do?'* she asked the old porter, when leav- 
ing his ynte to watch over the Count they had come out of his 
room to consult. "I believe that a doctor should be called. 
Do you know who was their physician before?'* 

'' 8a, ... it is so long since. . . ." 



444 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

** I hesitate to take upon myself the responsibilily. But yet 
it seems to me the case for calling in a physician.^' 

The porter went to the Count's door and listened, as if to 
get counsel from that. ^' No, I do not hear him talking. . . . 
Senia, what it seems to me. Very ill he cannot be, he can 
stand on his feet, he took a good bit of the wine. I should say 
to wait till the Marchese comes, the Marchese Filiberti, his 
cousin, who was here this morning, and said he would come 
again before night.'' 

*^ I have no authority in this house, I am only an acquaint- 
ance, — of long date, however, whom the Count asked for my 
arm to help him home. But my opinion would be not to delay 
sending for a doctor." 

"As it appears to you I'* The servant turned toward her 
his two palms, in a gesture expressive of a servant's natural 
submission to a signora, though she belong not in the house, 
and be Ood knows who. 

" The best would seem to me to send at once to fhe foremost 
physician in the city. Whom have you to send?'' 

" There is the Coimfs man, who came in but a moment be- 
fore you came, saying he had lost the padrone. He is in the 
kitchen, I think, afraid to show himself." 

^^ Perhaps he knows what to do for his master in sudi an 
emergency." 

" Perhaps. But he has been in his service only a short time, 
I imderstand." 

" Will you call him, that I may speak with him? " 

When she had explained his errand to the man, and seen 
him started on it, "I will remain," she said to the porter, 
"until the doctor has come and I have heard what he may 
have to say of my old friend's condition." With which she re- 
entered the Count's room, and graciously gave the porter's wife 
permission to go and resume her work. 

The Count, eased by a pillow in an arm-chair, — he had 
shown reluctance to mounting one of the high narrow beds 
of which there were two in the room, — appeared to be sleeping, 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 446 

bieatlimg more quietly. The drop of wine had done him good. 
Camilla noiselessly took a chair^ and from that point let her 
curiosity travel and rummage around the large, slowly-darken- 
ing room. 

The furniture was throughout of one make and style, — mar- 
quetry, modem, brown wood inlaid with a lighter wood, in a 
pattern of the last elaboration, garlands and bow-knots, the 
whole fanciful, effective, costly, but in a rather inexpensive 
taste, after all, and, with its distinctly French look, not in per- 
fect accord with the pure Italian of the setting. . . . 

But that she should be sitting there, Camilla, criticizing the 
taste of the Mari furniture I Introduced into that house once 
more by a chance so curious I Such extraordinary turns has 
destiny. . • . 

The old Count, on whom her eyes were fixed as she meditated 
upon the strangeness and perhaps significance of the event, faded 
from sight behind unfolding visions of opportunity open to 
the eye of imagination. 

A slight noise at the door preceded its opening. A gentle- 
man stepped into the room, and stood still. From his con- 
tinuing motionless so long, when he saw that the Count slept, 
Camilla knew it could not be the doctor. She rose and tip- 
toed out. Filiberti — it was unmistakably Filiberti, — fol- 
lowed. They moved to the farther end of the contiguous room 
before speaking, and then conferred in undertones. 

**It does not surprise me, it does not surprise me at all,'* 
said the Marquis after listening, and shook his head in com- 
mentary. *'He is a very old man. The effects of the hard 
travel, — he came all of one breath from Sicily, — combined 
with the mental excitement, the agitation which I know he 
was feeling. ... It does not surprise me at all. . . . But you, 
signora, who have been so very kind, it is time you were re- 
lieved of the burden which through Christian charity you have 
assxmied.'' 

** Pray let me remain until the doctor has been. The truth 
is I am not a stranger moved by charity, but one who feels 



U€ THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

toward tbe Count tbe wmrm i^^rd of pencnal gntitode. I 
UB ind^ited to him f<H- a my gnmt benefit, bestowed indeed 
« long time ago, but ?Dcfa things aanot be tmgMxsL , . . 
Too. too, yarqiii&, I lananber with gntitode. . . ." 

SIk looked at him with a nolle, and mi nin g waited while, 
retomiog ber look by one ratbo- more Uank than seanhing, 
be fumbled in his memorr. 

A noble simplicitT marked her manner this aftenwoD. Sa 
face took the note of a qoiet and ordertr beantr, andi u > 
formal garden's, from a nqnare white foidnad boonded \>J 
dark hair, thick-set and predae as a clipped jew hedge. 

*'0b, ron coold not poEBiblT leinember ttie oocasiaa," sk 
reliered hi^ anbanaHment. " I was a little giri, a diild of 
come promi^ it seanfl. A priest, oar friend, wbo was a biai 
abo of the Count's, brongfat roe here to sec him, Bering t» 
interest him. Ton were prensit at onr intcniew. Do jn 
remember now? No, n»a would not, natniallT. Let me tH 
that tbe Count, of his great generositT, gaTe me an ednatiai 
in nothing inferior to that of his own dbughter. . . ." 

" Ah ! . . .'* Light broke on Filfberti, and he amote hit 
brow in witneae thereof, " I do remember now ! " 

"The little girl whose pocket jou filled with sweetmeiti?'' 

" I do remember, 1 do remember, certainly. What was nnr 
name? ... Of course! And what became of toq afterwaiA' 
I often wondered, — ao rery ir.:.:-^::?.^ I hid fo-^nd yon. ilw 
than oDce I inquired of the Coim;. — whom ve hare seen lil 
too seldom these many year?. — bat. if I remenber lightlj, 
the Woffle of life be had loet sight of you. 
I know, it seemed to me, that he should hare allowed 
be lost altf^etber fnHn eifht . . . You hare not been 
in Florence all these yean, surely." 

"I came bw^ after a bug abeence. a year or 
When life has wearied us i little, a return to the 
earliest joys and child's-gtmes is sweet." 

" I hope that your word?, aignora, 
ancbotv, that Tonr life has 




THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 447 

tions, and tliat yoa are blessed with all tiw family jc^, a good 
husband and good children." 

"Neither the one thing nor the other. . . . But how is it 
ve are talking of me P I meant bat to explain mj interest in 
the Connfs condition, and make it nnderetood how very mnch 
at Ma dieposal I must always be for any serrioe I can render, 
amall or great" 

" To think it should be yon, precisely yon," the liarqnia 
broke forth in a delight bo enthnsiastic it needed explaining, 
"yon, who torn np at this honr of oar perplexity with worcu 
60 generous I" 

" Aside from the pleasure there ia in being useful to others, 
joQ mnst see that it is natural I should feel deeply bound to 
Count Mari." 

"It is just that which mokes the miracle of the moment I 
I have been wondering since morning who there was on whom 
he, or I either, had the smallest ■'I"'"' Finding nothing, I 
tome back prepared to do, poor bachelor, the beet I can by my- 
self. And here, descended like an angel from Heaven, I find 
jDu! A woman's head we need, yon see, to set this household 
on foot. ... It cannot be left to the two old servants, the 
porter and his wife. And the Count himself, you see bow it 
iR. . . . He arrived last night, announced by telegram only a 
few hours before. This morning he sent for me, and as a 
friend, by marriage a cousin, the closest tie left to him in the 
city, I wished naturally to be of such use as I could. All day 
I have been trying to find among my acquaintances, of through 
toy acquaintance, some dear good woman to aid me. . . . The 
one whose assistance could have been counted upon is, to our 
eternal loss and regret, no longer here. . . ." The last was 
spoken in a sigh, and accompanied by a look appropriately 
dejected. As if a cloud after obscuring the snn had removed 
itself, he ctmiiiiaed with a return of briskneas, " In Ijricf, I 
have not B^^MiH^^^^ 

^^dm^^-^i^^^^^^^mm Uttle kiogdoni, which mnst be 
">r officers must report to 



N 



448 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

the major^ these to the ministery who is responsible to the 
king. A minister is indispensable/' 

*^ If the Count has come back here to live^ his house, it is 
clear, must resume the old style and dignity. If it cannot be 
what it was in Countess Maria's day, stiU, for an old man alone 
it must be decent, comfortable. . . .'' 

" I beg you will believe. Marquis, that I was not exaggerat- 
ing when I said I considered myself the Count's deeply obliged 
servant. Command me to the limit of my power. I am glad 
to say I am not without experience in such matters as are here 
in question — Shall we leave the subject to talk over later, and 
now return to the County who may be waking? '' 



CHAPTEB II 

THAT Camilla should be willing from one day to the next to 
leave the management of her affairs in the hands of others, 
while she took the management of another's affairs into her 
own uncompensated hands, seemed singular to more than one, 
who thought she exaggerated the obligations of gratitude. But 
these were people who did not understand. 

For one thing, she did not entirely neglect the oversight of 
her now flourishing trade, for which Bianca too was beginning 
to entertain maternal feelings, and which Antonietta — a 
woman with a bony nose, burning eyes, and a feverish, unex- 
plained passion for work, — was, with restrictions and guid- 
ance, well fitted to conduct. For a second, her invisible re- 
ward was satisfactory, and if she had no other, it was because 
fihe had with splendid dignity refused. She was approved and 
valued. A beautiful high light was on her in the part of good 
Itairy. Her direct public was only Filiberti. But Filiberti 
Btood for so much. Filiberti was the real thing. 

From Count Mari accepting her presence without remark, 
ehe knew it had been explained to him. He was very little 
interested. 

The doctor came daily, on what had the appearance more 
than anything of a friendly visit. He spent half an hour chat- 
ting with his patient, whose intelligence age had not impaired, 
and gave his advice as a secondary thing. From Camilla and 
Filiberti he did not disguise his opinion that the Count was at 
liis last illness. It was not so much the heart which recent 
shocks had strained, or the blood which seemed sifted of color, 
•^what ailed the man was, simply, everything. All the dis- 

449 



450 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

orders kept in check so long b; a trinmphant vitality were no* 
making headway because mainly of old age. The end, which 
might not come for some months, half a year, or ereo more, 
was likely to be endden, the doctor thought 

It was upon hearing this Uiat Filiberti besought Camilla to 
come and live outright at the house, where she was spending 
only such time daily as she found neceesary. With that poB- 
sibilil? of a sudden bad turn in which the Count might enc- 
cumb, it was imperative, as they both saw it, that some oaa 
should be at hand besides servants. 

" And who is there like you ? " be asked. " With your per- 
fect tact, your sufficiency in every emergency, your facol^ for 
directing others, and then your light step, your deft touch, 
yonr amiable presence P " 

That, from the first moment, had been Filiberti.'s tone with 
her. An admiration simple and explicit, a familiarity full of 
respect, as if he had known her from childhood, yet could m^^ 
grow used to the marvel of so many perfections as she bad 
developed. He regarded her, it was plain, as still yoimgi 
though he must have known her age, — young, beautiful, towai- 
ingly feminine, and in her discharge of a sacred duty deeen- 
ing almost of veneration. 

Not a remarkably intelligent man, the Marquis, but infimtdy 
a huotM pasta, his friends resolved, which may be rendered »^ 
roughly, a good sort. A gentle heart Harmless in the tond 
sense as weU as the other. He had in his life set no nvert 
afire, but he had given no pain willingly to living soul, w^ 
he had endured a great deal out of good nature, ^*°.r*^" ai. 
ful in quarters whence were dealt to him ^rpiexi y 
usage, sometimes mortification. . ^\<^ 

In person he was charming still, yow-Si'j i°'^ ^^^ ^ ^^ [_ WttV 
brush and beard -■ ' ' "ure of siW^^ a a.^^^ legatd ao 
weak, voice a " 't maaxk.^^ coi"'*^^ 

delicacy it w thos^ >veA 

tion dull. h< 

might be sm 




THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 451 

but in lower companies he was deferred to^ so strong upon him 
were the marks of belonging among the best 

Of talking he was very fond, not so much of discussion, 
argument^ as of a narrative, faiU divers, the daily chronicle of 
people's doings. He was not merely ready to tell you any- 
thing he had not promised to keep secret, he preferred to tell 
it, as if it were a present which must be agreeable to you and 
which he took pleasure in making. On the other hand, if he 
were curious, or greedy of gossip, he never gave you occasion 
to impute that fault to him, he had the right measure of 
gentlemanly discretion. 

Very soon and without asking, Camilla learned from him 
what she already in part knew from the servants, the true 
circumstances of Count Marias return to Florence. He dropped 
his voice to impart the information, though no one was near, 
as if telling something too bad to be told. 

" I regard you as one of the family,'* he prefaced the con- 
fidence, '^ and you shall hear what must by no means get abroad. 
His daughter Bezia, I am afraid there is no doubt about it, 
turned him out of the house.'' His sense of the monstrosity 
of this was expressed by abnormally rounded eyes. ''Yes, I 
am afraid there can be no doubt of it. It is what he asserts, 
and in a letter I have from her attempting to justify her con- 
duct, she states nothing different. She says he had become 
an impossible inmate of any house that respects itself, and that 
she had endured it already too long. The question is at what 
point a father becomes an impossible inmate! But no doubt 
there is something to be said on her side. He had been making 
his home of hers for a long time, and he is full as we know 
of the crotchets of old age. She has her husband, her chil- 
dren, her friends, and he took all the liberties of a man in his 
own house. There was battle finally, climax to endless friction 
and vexation, and as the house is hers she could order him to 
leave. A very sad affair, for aside from the scandal of such 
a thing, — that after all can be kept quiet, — if there is one 
creature in the world whom our friend can be said to love it 



468 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

is that daughter. Let us be frank^ he did not love his wife, 
he never showed feeling for his son, but for this daughter, 
very like himself in disposition, he had distinctly a weakness. 
And she precisely must be the one to deal him this blow, to 
embitter ttie end of his life ! ^ 

Was it over the unkindness of Bezia that the old man 
brooded, — singular-looking Lear 1 — when he sat for hours in 
gloomy inaction, or was it a trance of mere old age shutting 
him in? 

Camilla thought it well sometimes to press herself on his 
attention, to rouse him, divert him. He responded, to the 
extent of showing a preference for her ministrations above 
those of Adolfo, his man. He accepted his medicine from her, 
he took her arm for a walk from room to roouL Emerging 
as if from the smoke of battle into a clearer atmosphere, as the 
days increased between him and the parting from Sezia, be 
took closer account of things around him. Camilla was some- 
times requested to set up the pieces on a chess-board before 
him. Though no one saw him move them, it was presumed 
he worked out a problem. He gave her permission to read 
aloud from a volume of secret memoirs of the Court of Prance, 
and was moved to curiosity by the perfection of her French. 
She told him her history. He did not interrupt by one ques- 
tion. At the end she foimd him watching her, distantly, im- 
personally. " You look like a Teobaldi," was his sole remark, 
and as he had obviously not been listening, impatient with hiiQ) 
she did not inquire what he meant. 

With the perfect care he received, the Coimt surely would 
get well, opined Filiberti optimistically. Camilla had served 
a long apprenticeship at cherishing the old, all the delicate 
art came back to her. The Count in a few weeks really ap- 
peared to be so much better that Camilla spoke of going home. 
Her words were not taken seriously. They were swept aside 
like straws, and she felt her position in the house secure as 
long as she pleased. 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 463 

To have the reins of a rich establishmeiit gathered in her 
hand^ to live in grandeur once more^ with servants and car- 
riage at command, gave her back some of that plain zest in 
being which she had to such an extent lost, a happiness not 
of the heart, but of certain nerves, certain cells in the brain. 
Her lungs breathed with beautiful ease in the air of palaces. 
She had taken for her own the room that had been Bezia's, 
stripped the hoUand off the azure brocade, the muslin from 
sconces and mirror of Venetian glass, set up the bed-draperies 
of blue, which formed a background so effective, celestial, for 
the ivory god stretching delicate emaciated arms on an ebony 
cross over the bed. The room of a blonde, Camilla saw it to 
be, but did not find it unbecoming to herself, because her pallor 
was so clear. It was on the quiet side of the house, the garden 
side, — the garden almost came in at the windows. 

Strange to find the dining-room so small I Not of dimen- 
sions really mean, but unimposing by comparison with her 
childish memory of it. The hangings, slightly faded, were 
the same, she was quite sure; the tassels and cords that held 
them back were big, yes, but nothing so tremendous as she 
remembered. She foimd among the china the set that had 
been in use on that famous day, she picked out the plate, painted 
with a group of fruit, on which her little glass of liqueur had 
stood. In her proper housewife's round to see that every cor- 
ner was clean, she came upon the old remembered bird-cage 
in the lumber-room. 

''While the Count lives, I will remain here,** she at once 
foresaw and decided. 

And she was wonderfully attentive to his health. 
''You are a saint 1** said Piliberti, whose visit to the house 
was regular, daily. 

Callers began to come, most of them old people. They in- 
quired and left their illustrious names. The Count's iUness 
was made a pretext for turning them away. Though up and 
dressed, he did not wish to see them. 
"Nor they mel** he grumbled. 



466 THE TETJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

*' Ah, yea.'* 

** I might send for her secretly, have her come as if she did 
it of her own mind. . . /' 

^^I would not do that. Another such fit of rage. . . !^ 

"True. There is another, — Bezial It would be no more 
than justice if he withdrew from her the inheritance and gave 
it to some charily, or to the Church. He requested me but 
yesterday to have their family lawyer come to talk with him. 
I had partly Bezia's interest in mind — who, undutiful as she 
is, is still his daughter, — when I put forward my entreaty that 
he call her to his side.'' 

"Let the matter rest, I pray, till the poor old man's heart 
is a little more solid." 

"Ah, you, you are as compassionate as she is unfeeling. 
No, the Countess Maria, far from fond as she was of her hna- 
band, would not have approved this conduct of her daughter's 
toward her father. . . ." He was lost a moment, thinking 

of it 

" I imagine not." Camilla made conversation to fill in the 
gap, as was her wont. " A good woman she must have been. 
I have found a hoard of books of piety once belonging to her, 
leaf-worn volumes, with a pressed fiower here and there, and 
an odor of incense, inscribed Maria Teobaldi." 

"Teobaldi? Those are not hers. They were the Count's 
mother's, a good woman, she too." 

"Ah . . . indeed ... I see. There is also a painter, an 
old master, of the name, is there not?" 

" Very likely. You are certain to know more about it than 
I. I have not given such things much study. . . . Past 
twelve o'clock. You must be tired, and I am keeping you from 
your rest. Of course, of course, you would never own that you 
were tired, not while you could serve anybody, if it be only a 
gray-haired bore who feels a need to talk oflE his troubles, and 
makes a victim of you. ... If it were a just world, not the 
Church, nor any hospital, should profit by Bezia's contumacy, 
but you, you, the faithful and devoted Sister of Mercy who, 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 467 

without owing anything^ give so mnch^ for the sake of an 
ideal . . /' 
"You are forgetting how much I have received.*' 
"Yes, yes, I know. But the difference between the grati- 
tude given respectively by Bezia and you, is just one illustra- 
tion more of the strangeness of our world! ... I kiss your 
hand, and will come in the morning to inquire how he has 
spent the night/' 

The Count desired to be up and dressed next day, though 
he was very weak. 

It was impossible to tell how he felt about himself. As far 
as any expression he gave to his sentiments, he was as little 
moved to pity or regret by his own condition as he would have 
been, manners aside, by the condition of another. He was 
observed sometimes regarding his old hands, pinching them, 
testing the articulations, or with cynical interest studying his 
slippered feet, which he must have seen were swollen. His 
obstinate insistence upon getting up and being fully dressed, 
on days when bed was recommended as the best place for him, 
betrayed perhaps a superstitious reluctance to appearing to 
lay down arms, and entering the next phase. 

On this day his thoughts kept him busy; shadows of them 
passed across his face, as he sat taciturn before the caminetto 
where, the weather being damp, there flickered a stick or two 
of the scarce and precious Italian wood. He now frowned, 
now sardonically grinned, now, jerking his head with the em- 
phasis of some mental rema:tk, locked his jaws so that the 
muscles stood out. 

Camilla who was in the room, — the Count was never left 
alone, — did not ill-advisedly break upon his meditations with 
chatter, though ready by every sign to converse, read aloud, 
place his chessmen, bathe his head, rub his extremities, any- 
thing, anything, the moment he gave the hint. With face bent 
over her embroidery, as we have so often seen her, she was 
thinking on her side. 



468 THE TBTJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

His breathing took the character of a series of snorts, she 
looked sharply toward him. " Sciacco!'* she heard him spit 
f orth> and knew not whether he were speaking for her to hear, 
or talking to himself , ** Sciocco I '^ He wagged his head vig- 
orously, and fell into silence. After a time he seemed to wish 
her to know^ too^ what a fool he thought somebody. 

** There's Ersilio I '' he said, in an exasperation that con- 
tained along with scorn a hint of angry amusement. *^ It seems 
impossible a man should change so much ! I used to credit him 
with a little judgment, criterion, reason, — che diamine! But 
the fellow has grown an intolerable flat. I was mistaken in 
him. I thought him of very little account, but I still thought 
too well of him. Twenty years of fidelity to an ugly, bad- 
tempered, selfish old woman, devout — bigotta! — into the 
bargain, may account for much, but without a strong original 
tendency to be an ass, never tell me he could have been brought 
under her domination. A Megsera, I have heard, who gave 
him only nutshells herself, but kept him from marriage, or so 
much as looking into the eyes of another. . . . And he cannot 
shake off her yoke even now that he is free. His conversation 
is stamped with her ideas. And this whipper-snapper stands 
up to me to prescribe my conduct, dictate my duty. He tells 
me I must send for Bezia. . . . Must I? I Hideous hag, I 
will see her dead firstl ** 

Camilla had drawn a chair to the fire beside him, respect- 
fully, companionably. She placed a hand, pleasantly warmings 
on one of the cold, skinny claws, curving over the ends of his 
arm-rests. "Will you let me tell you what you ought to do?'' 
she asked, in her most soothing and womanly way. " What you 
ought to do is everything possible to get well 1 You can, you 
know, if you will only obey the doctor. Now I am going to 
give you a little of the medicine that quiets yoiu^' 



CHAPTER III 

FLIBEBTI^ after paying his duty to the County remained now 
and then to dine with Camilla. She kept up a certain state^ 
for the discipline of the servants, she explained, and to main- 
tain herself in their respect. But it was a state not stiff and 
formal; the cosiness of those little dinners made occasions of 
them which the Marquis was so pleased to renew that he some- 
times, with the proper prologue of apology, invited himself. 

After dinner they would give the Count their joint company 
until the hour for his sleep. The evening would end in her 
salottino. 

So well adapted for confidences was this place, with its ele- 
gant snugness, its shaded lamp, its peculiarly comfortable sofa, 
in the angles of which two could lounge at their ease while 
preserving a befitting distance from each other, that Ersilio 
almost before he knew it was relating to Camilla the most 
personal episodes of his history. Beserve was not natural to 
him, and yet he had not told his whole life and all his feelings 
to as many as might be imagined. A really sympathetic 
ear was necessary to him, together with circumstances that by 
a sort of suggestion drew him forth. 

''Strange how I talk to you of all these things,'* he said, 
"but it is something in yourself responsible for it. Very 
strange how I never needed to make acquaintance with you, 
but started at once on the footing of old friend.'* 

'' But we are old friends, such very old friends 1 " she smiled. 

''True. It really seems as if seeing each other those many 

years ago, child as you were, had made a difference. Another 

possible explanation is that I have suffered much from loneli- 

450 



460 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

ne88 in the last years, since the one who so long was my friend 
passed from this earth. . . /' He paused as usual, with a 
mournful air, not altogether hypocritical, the length of time 
it would take to say, " God give peace to her soul ! " — ** A man 
feels the need of a woman's ear,'* he resumed, " into which to 
pour his troubles. We are a poor sex, cara signora, falsely 
called the strong. The women are in reality much stronger. 
We need them much more than they need us. I have all my 
life felt the necessity of that delicate sympathy which they 
alone can give; all my life have prized the virtues that place 
the best of them high on the peaks above men. Nature had 
fitted me more than most, I believe, to find my happiness in 
domestic ties. . . • And now, nearing the sundown of life, 
where do I stand?'' 

'* There enters a great deal of destiny into all these things/' 
said Camilla, with her beautiful air of looking the Sphinx 
searchingly in the eyes. 

" Yes, yes. Destiny. I am unwilling to call it retribution, 
for though the first part of my life was, as I have confessed to 
you, that of a wordling, and my sensibility to the charm of 
women — didamo la veriiAl — took the form of desiring to 
make a very large bouquet of the lovely flowers most easily 
picked, still at a given moment I woke to better sentiments, 
and in good faith, when the hour had come for bringing a little 
order into my life, and I looked for a woman so good that her 
affection should reform me, — in good faith I took with my- 
self the solemn engagement to be worthy of her. ... I will 
bring a photograph of my poor Adelia to show you. An angel 
For with the notorious selfishness of man, sinner as I was, 
when it came to choosing a wife, I would be suited with nothing 
less. — An angel. Azure-eyed, blonde, a little pale, a little 
fragile-looking (Biondina! pallidina! gracUinaf) but her 
health was good everybody thought at the time. A droop to 
her charming head that gave her a little effect of melancholy, 
such as an angel's in exile among sinful men. How should I 
not adore her, the more that I felt deeply how little I merited 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 461 

the gift of so much grace and youth and innocence, I who had 
waited until f orty, will you believe it, before developing a little 
good sense? *' 

^'Tes, you must bring me her photograph. I should like 
to see it, for its own sake, naturally, your description kindles 
curiosity, but even more — shall I say it? — because it will 
help me to understand you better I '* 

'\8empre coA htuma! Do you know that you often remind 
me of Adelia?'' 

l^ot new to Camilla to be told by gentlemen not young, in 
the early stages of sentiment, that she reminded them of a 
former beloved. (Surely men can never know one another as 
some women know them.) But she raised her eyebrows in 
surprise at this coincidence. 

"I do not mean physically,'* he quickly explained. "In 
that respect, though not without something very pleasing in 
face and form, she was almost your contrary. But she had 
the same faculty for entering into the feelings of others, for 
placing the needs and desires of others before her own.*' 

''You are too kind. . . . You are deceived in me, I fear. 
Had I died at her age, before life and the world had hardened 
me, who knows? ... I hope I deserve, however, the esteem 
you show me in talking to me of her. Oh, it was cruel you 
should lose her like that, on the very eve of your nuptials.'' 

'* So cruel that my faith suffered a severe shock, and I would 
have slipped back, I fear, to the old unregenerate life, had not 
my dear girl left me a sacred inheritance, which proved my 
safeguard, — the friendship and counsel of the one to whom 
the world was indebted for her being, whose strong hand and 
beautiful soul for the twenty years to follow were my support 
and inspiration." 

Camilla always had to smile internally when Filiberti spoke 
to her in such terms of that Donna Laura Selvatici whom he 
had just escaped having for his mother in-law to have the rest 
of her life as a fetter to his foot. The man was fairly trans- 
parent, yet she could long not decide whether he were in good 



462 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

faith when he extolled and mourned her. For Donna Laura, 
it seemed well eatablished, had been something of a Tartar. 

He deceived himself, she concluded. In his natural kind- 
ness, his piety toward the dead, he desired to feel in a certain 
way, and assumed that he did so. But as his tendency to tell 
things was less and less under curb with Camilla, he let drop 
illuminating words oftentimes. She was satisfied that she 
knew what playing dcisbeo to that collet morUe for half a life- 
time had really meant. 

Was it a consciousness of treachery in his own heart, or a 
sense that Donna Laura could still watch him, which made 
him so perfect in every observance of the cult of memory? He 
went often, she learned, to visit and cheer the aged father of 
Adelia, that invalid of many years who so surprisingly had 
survived his wife. Camilla could imagine them talldng to- 
gether about Her. 

The subtle influences of the salottmo notwithstanding, Ca- 
milla for a long time preserved with Ersilio the mystery of 
all those years she had spent away from Italy. Only from 
casual allusions did he gather that she had traveled everywhere, 
known eminent and interesting people, been married twice. 

When it was coming to appear somewhat pointed after all 
that she should say so little about the past, she let him under- 
stand that she refrained because the subject saddened her. 

Their talk together sometimes brought them to expose their 
respective philosophies of life. Hers was pessimistic, his less 
so, for he was a more lively believer, and excused the disap- 
pointments of mortal existence by supposing the mysterious 
mercy of (Jod behind them. 

In these conversations she came to apprehend, beneath his 
formal reprehension of sin, a real weakness of sympathy for 
sins of passion. No persons were so insinuatingly appealing 
to him as those victims of love in whom the madness burned 
so hot it drove them, in defiance of conscience, warnings, dan- 
gers, results, onward and onward to the predestined end. The 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 463 

certainty of his charity — more, more than charity it was; a 
dash of admiration, envy almost, tinged his pity, — eased for 
Camilla a task which had at first presented difficidties. 

It would not do to tell this well-informed man that the Czar 
had given her a divorce from Elaguine. It would not do to 
take for granted that he had not seen the same Figaro as An- 
tenore's friend. 

On the evening when he had from her the story of her life, 
she was dressed with a simplicity conspicuous, conventual; 
in black, as usual, but a black more significant, — sad, unre- 
lieved, penitentially bare of ornament. All through dinner 
she spoke little, smiled with effort when he remarked upon her 
silence, and excusing it with the words, '^I know not what 
ails me!" pressed her hands to her eyes and temples. 

When in the sdlottino, with a face full of sincere anxiety, 
he urged her to tell him what troubled her, *' Nothing ! Noth- 
ing, really ! '' she put him off. " There is nothing new in this I 
You must know yourself how after certain things are buried 
their ghosts continue to haunt one. All day the ghosts of the 
past have been about me, so thick I could scarcely breathe!" 

" The one way I know to lighten sorrow is talking of it. A 
burden shared is not so heavy. You are aware of my profound 
regard for you. . . ." 

Camilla had ordered on the bookshelves of her sitting-room, 
gathering them from the various bookcases in the house, a 
selection of the poetry and romances we read before the eighties, 
representative as far as could be of her personal tastes. There 
were Feuillet and Sand, Sue and Mont6pin, as well as De Mus- 
set, Gautier, De Banville. In none of those volumes lived 
there a love-story more moving than the one which that even- 
ing sent the air-waves vibrating against their faintly scented 
russia-leather backs. 

The opening chapters dealt with the youth of a wdman liv- 
ing with an older, in the relation somewhat of Mademoiselle de 
Lespinasse and Madame du Deffand. The salon where the flower 
of society, all that was brilliant and choice, came to pay court. 



464 THE TBTJTH ABOUT CAVILLA 

The detth of the protectreBa, lesring the heroine rich and soli- 
tiTj. The offers of marriage refused one after the other, be- 
caiue the one acceptable snitor bo strangel; held back. A Bti§- 
nao prince tbii ms, sTowedlj enamored, and secretJr bved in 

He comef one day and oonfeBsee his guilt toward tiie star 
of bis life. He baa yielded to his love for her and won bis 
lore while not free to wed. In a lonely country-house on tbe 
border of tbe steppe, there drags along her oselees and obetinste 
existence a demented wife, forgotten by everybody, bat able 
to revenge herself for her misfortnne by mining his life. Ub- 
lesB, he pleads, the love of his dearly-beloved be great enon^ 
to overleap this barrier, so crael, so nnjost. The conflict it 
terrible, is almost too great for tbe strength of the poor wom- 
an. Bnt temptation is resisted and put far behind by fli^t) 
sadden, secret, nocturnal. . . . 

In a cottage on the edge of the Black Forest, there migbt 
have been seen, soon after the disappearance which for eigbt 
days mystified Paris, a guest singularly diverse from its lowlj 
peasant owners. Day after day, this grief-blighted figure, eaV 
tracting itself from every human regard, would steal shadow- 
like into the forest, in ite most solitary recess fall face down- 
ward on the moss, and lie weeping, because the heart-hmiger, 
the fever in the veins, were not one jot abated by time and 
absence. . . . 

How did Prince Elagoine discover her retreat? . . . Com- 
ing out into the gloaming she found him one ev^iing, haggard, 
burning-eyed. Before she could think, like two torrents they 
had mahed together. . . . And then she knew that, wbaterer 
destruction mi^t ensue, she could resist no more. 

For nine years she had borne his title, passing for his wife. 
The existence of the legal wife was known to nobody in tbeit 
part of thp world. J 

"And tlien? . . ." Camilla picked at a bit of fringe ou^| 
sofa-pillow. "The tragedy of bo many women'.aJixfiaidV'^B 
my tragedy. Tout oasae! . . . the prove"^" 



X 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 466 

u veil as Feking, if applied, alas, to the allectKns of men. 
The one good point of Hoch a anicHi — " her lip cnrred bitterW, 
"ia that, ao one be willing to sacrifice the oatward to the in- 
Tftrd pride, one need not suffer indefinitely the r61e of neglected 
Tife. . . . Bnt the mistake one makes is to believe that when 
one's life and faith have been broken one can begin anew, wipe 
out the past, gather new etrength, and still be happ; ! That 
one's destiny will change! Alas! I changed my name, bnt 
I did not change my destiny. . . . Enough ! Enoogfa ! " She 
tgain pressed her hands to her eyes and temples, " I most not 
Speak of these things any more, or my head will ache ao modi 
that I shall not be able to sleep all nl^t Another time, my 
good friend, I will tell yon how, though all the circomstances 
of my second marriage were different from the first, the end 
was still the same, nnhappiness, separation. . . ." 

"Povera donaaf" mormnred Filiberti feelingly, and very 
gently, respectfully, patted her hand. Then, with a sorrowfol 
Eead^iake and a ^g^ to the general air, " Povere donne! " 

After a night when Adolfo, who slept in the Coonfs dress- 
ing-room, had failed to bear him call, and slumbered soddeuly 
through the sharp ping-pinging of his bell, Camilla carried her 
bed-clothes to the study. Half-dressed she stretched on a 
sofa at the bedroom door, and every time the Count stirred 
was at his side in a moment, softly wrappered, noiselessly 
shod. 

Was he sensible of the perfection of her care? So was she 
constituted that she craved, besettingly, some express acknowl- 
edgment that he was not unaware or untouched. 

Bnt his punctual thanks remained a part of mechanical good 
manners, and she could find it in herself almost to laugh, re- 
membering the hope that had formed when she undertook tor 
the second time in her life to be hands and feet to a person 
rich and aged, fount Mari and Mrs. Northmere — gimpaii- 
■ — ' ^were two very different characters. Should she re- 
her reward, howerer, the months spent in Casa Man 



466 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

might be aocounted as so much to the good. There would be 
left ike acquaintance with Filiberti. 

The minor before which she did her hair reflected one morn- 
ing a subtly altered face, outwardly abstracted, intensely set 
on its inward vision. The first element in this unaccustomed 
expression was wonder. 

When in asking the Count how he was feeling to-day she 
bent over the better to see his face, she looked at him with dif- 
ferent eyes, puzzled, searching. 

''Do you remember a time of restlessness in the night?" 
she tried him. '' I heard you murmuring to yourself and tip- 
toed in. . . . But if you do not remember, it is because yon 
were not really awake. So much the better." 

Singular words they had been which he spoke, in that frag- 
mentary talk of his delirium. He had unmistakably recog- 
nized her, had addressed her. . . . The very earth had seemed 
to reverse its movement while the possible meaning of his words 
worked in. A light had flashed back over her life, illuminat- 
ing points of it which interpreted his words, even as his words 
interpreted them. Her head had swum. 

To-day she could give her mind to nothing else. The as- 
pect of the world had changed. 

Filiberti knew, of course. Of course, he -knew. How many 
others knew? It seemed to her after the first that she also 
had, in a subconscious way, known. 

As she watched the sick man in his chair, occupied with the 
dark study of his feet, a sterner judgment formed in her of 
the old benefactor. A cold man, — oh, a cold man! At the 
same time her desire increased immensely to have from him 
some human sign of liking, appreciation of her untiring services, 
such services as no money ever could have bought. 

She thought of Bezia, and the situation seemed to her sud- 
denly of better promise for herself. 

But as weeks were added to weeks, and the Count^s condi- 
tion remained the same, she said, '^ He will hang on to life bo 
long that Bezia's bad temper will have time to wear out, and 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 467 

regard for her interests to revive in force. She will take good 
advice^ she will come and make her peace/^ 

She was looking for Bezia, rather than for the Counf s deaths 
when in the middle of the nighty after a day no worse than the 
days before^ the dread thing was upon him. There was time 
to send for doctor and priest and friend. Count Carlo Onof rio 
Mari made a dignified and peaceful end. 

When^ all having been done that could be, Camilla stood a 
moment with Filiberti before he went home, both were pale. 
A candle burned on the study-table, though morning was creep- 
ing through the shutters; the shadows it made trembled on 
their faces, stamped alike with the sorrowful stillness and 
amazement left by the spectacle of death. 

" You must take a little rest,'* he said. " You must get if 
possible a few hours of forgetfulness. One deep consolation 
you have, dear friend. You did everything that could be done 
for him, everything. Like a daughter, you have been to him, 
a very daughter — whilst his other daughter. . . .'* 

She raised a hand wamingly. 

He pinched his lips, shrugged anology, and after hastily 
looking behind him, sought her eyes. The pause was filled by 
an exchange of knowledge through the glance. 

" As I was saying, you must try to rest,*' he took up again. 
^^I will at once send the necessary telegrams, and in a few 
hours I will come back.** 

On the following day Bezia arrived with husband and chil- 
dren. Camilla had made rooms ready for them all, bundling 
herself and her belongings into the incommodious guarda-roba. 
As much as any hostess, she cared that everything should be 
perfect for their entertainment. 

A singular experience for her, to feel under the eyes of these 
people as if she had no real being, were made of thin air, or 
else were a mechanical contrivance doing the work expected of 
it, and only to be noticed if it should hitch. Were they all 



468 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

too preoccupied to diBcriminate between her and an ordinary 
house-keeper? 

Preoccupied they looked, and travel-tired and heavy and out 
of sorts, all but the youngest, whom his father and brother 
called Carlo, his mother and sister Ninl. When in his explora- 
tion of the house — keeping well away from one still chamber, 
— the child came upon Camilla, he talked with her very amic- 
ably, asked if she knew where his grandfather's sword was 
kept, also whether she had heard of their great earHiquake in 
Sicily, and he told her about it. 

Before the end of the day, she judged that Filiberti had talked 
to Bezia, for in Filiberti's presence Bezia spoke suitable words 
of thanks to her for the good care of her father. Standing 
beside the woman whose cast-off dresses she had once been 
proud to wear, Camilla could not but exult a little inwardly 
over the inevitable result of any comparison between them. 
" Work and frugalily have their good uses,'* she reflected, while 
her polite eyes carefully kept back all that was not complimen- 
tary to the grossly overblown charms before her. " Liberty to 
indulge one's appetite and one's ill humor is not refining to face 
or form, that is a fact ! " 

G-ianbattista, the first-bom, and Francesca, the married 
daughter, took after their father, a dry, dark, uncommunica- 
tive Sicilian. Ninl, Bezia's darling, between whom and his 
big brother and sister lay a wide gap of years, was blond like 
his mother. This child she spoiled foolishly, but Camilla 
overheard her through the bedroom door talking disagreeably 
to her daughter and receiving sour replies. 

At table she who had so long been mistress in the house 
courteously yielded her place at tihe head to Bezia, and thought 
she was acting rather nobly, since it was uncertain after all 
who was the owner. But in the course of the meal, — a silent 
and melancholy meal, as was befitting, though Camilla had 
taken pains with the menu, — she caught Bezia's eye upon her, 
so frigidly questioning her right to be sitting there with the 
family, that her heart started up furiously. It was a miracle 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 469 

she did not rise^ and after a pointed saying leave the company 
to digest their astonishment. 

She leaned back instead, as much at home as the rest, and 
when her heart had quieted down angled with small talk till 
she had caught De Santis in conversation. 

After dinner she carried the emblems of her stewardship, 
the keys and account-books, to Bezia, and was charmed to see 
how helplessly put out the lady looked at this most inconven- 
ient resignation, — was delighted to hear her with awkward, 
enforced humbleness begging for delay. 

*'Too long, dear signora,'* Camilla excused herself from 
heeding the entreaiy, "too long I have neglected my own af- 
fairs. Per amore I have been giving my services here while 
my interests required me at home. Observe^ I pray, that I am 
only asking for discharge after the labor of love I had set my- 
self has been completely fulfilled." 

^^What did the creature think?" sniffed she to herself as, 
the interview over, she threaded the corridor in the direction 
of the guardortdba. " That I was going to eat in the kitchen ? 
Or by myself, like an English governess ? " 

So it was among the common people crowding the body of 
the church that Camilla assisted at the funeral Mass sung for 
Count Mari. And she was not among those who should go 
afterwards with the family and friends to the grave. 

Fixing her eyes upon the great black catafalque, with its 
velvet pall and sweeping fringes, she tried to think appropriate 
thoughts, for Camilla ever had a fine feeling for what is due. 
She tried to penetrate herself with a sense of all she owed the 
Count There was to be considered, too, what she still might 
have to thank him for — Chissif . . . She tried to produce 
in herself some outflowing of gratitude, affection. . . . 

In vain, her heart remained shockingly dry. 

She did her best, but not one tear from her would Carlo 
Onofrio's good angel have to show, when at the Last Trial he 
stood forth to soften the case for his defendant. 



470 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

The hours were slow indeed between the day of the inter- 
ment and the evening of Filiberti^s first call at the apartment 
on the Lungarno. 

Even while he took her hand he was shaking his head, and 
at sight of his dejected smile she knew how strongly she had 
hoped, in spite of her own sage advice. 

But she smiled like a sportsman, and let him come to the 
news at his own good pleasure. 

^^Rezia is left out of the inheritance, even as I supposed," 
he let her have it, after inquiries and compliments. " And so 
are they all, but one, all but Niid, his godson, too young yet 
to have made himself obnoxious. What do you think of it? 
He gets the whole. And the mother not to have the admin- 
istration of the fortune during his minority, no, the mother 
not to touch it. An administrator is named, whose particu- 
lar duty is to keep the whole thing out of her hands and let it 
accumulate until the small Carlo Onofrio, now nine years of 
age, shall be twenty-one I And if the child should die, still 
Rezia not to benefit by a penny, she nor the rest of her family. 
It is to be divided among certain nephews and nieces. There 
is a vengeance, eh? And there is a case where the desire to 
spite many has resulted in something fine for one. A famous 
patrimony!'^ 

" The little boy inherits everything absolutely ? '' 

"With the exception of a few unimportant bequests.'^ 

"A souvenir, I hope, for you," Camilla spoke with smiling 
dry lips, "you, whose friendship lightened for him so many 
hours otherwise painful and tedious.*' 

"Yes, he has not forgotten me. I am to have a certain 
carved cellaret with furnishings of white and ruby Bohemian 
glass. Also a smoking set of very precious cloisonne, in 
ironical remembrance, I suppose, of the epoch when, despite 
the difiference in our ages, we might have been called cronies." 

" I know the articles, beautiful of their kind, but very in- 
sufficient they seem to me to express a regard in proportion 
to your kind offices.'* 



THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 471 

'^If you feel thus concerning my legacy, what am I to say 
concerning yours ? '* 

^Mine? You mean that there is a remembrance also for 
me?'' 

"Yes. You could never imagine . . /' 

*'You excite my curiosily. Pray be quick to satisfy it. A 
jewel? A bibelot? " 

"A set of bedroom furniture, the furniture of the room in 
which he died." 

^'The . . .? But why, can you think, does he will me 
that?" 

" The clause explains, ^ for which she has expressed her ad- 
miration.' " 

**My admi. . . .?" 

Then she remembered, and making the tips of her ten fin- 
gers into two little hammers smote herself on the brow with 
ttiem. One rainy afternoon it had been, when, just to say 
something, to make the time pass, she had found nothing 
better than to praise the furniture. Since it was his property 
he must like to hear it praised. She had observed the smile 
on his face as he inquired, " You really think well of the taste 
of this furniture, do you?" and taking it for an expression of 
gratification had increased in her encomiums. 

"Maria too admired it," he had remarked when she closed. 
"We bought it together at the first Universal Exposition in 
Paris, where it had been awarded a prize. The glamour was 
upon us. But after getting it home, I never could endure it ! " 
and he meanly mortified her by pronouncing it banal, showy, 
spurious. 

Insult it as much as you please, the cost could not have been 
less than ten thousand francs. With this refiection she now 
consoled herself. 



CHAPTER IV 

FOS the first after her return home, Camilla was dissatig- 
fied with everything. She had happily too much to do, 
straightening the various matters that had gone awry during 
her absence, to afford time for the indulgence of regrets. 

Bianca and Mariuccia occupied with her the rooms over the 
lace-shop. Antenore and Battistina continued at the Villa, of 
which a portion had been ceded to another family, — the two, as 
they worded it, "making common life.** A very satisfactory 
arrangement, which furnished Antenore with such pleasant and 
appreciative society in his own house as he had nevcn: enjoyed. 
He was blossoming into an after-dinner wit. Camilla going 
to see them one Sunday, the first time^ in many months, was 
surprised to find with what purely negative feelings she could 
now sit by while Antenore played the buffoon. 

The old aunt, but for an increasing loss of memory, retained 
her health. The new inqvilini were kind to her. But the sight 
of Camilla startled her into feeble weeping, and the admission 
that she was lonely without the '' puteie/' the girls. 

Great excitement resulted from the discovery one day that 
Mariuccia was in secret communication with her mother, that 
the woman was attempting to entice her away from the aunts. 

*^ And the caitivella would go,** said Camilla, when the family 
held conclave. " I know her. She would go in the hope of nov- 
elty, an end to discipline, greater liberty to misbehave. We 
must have a colloquy with this ugly viper of a mother, promise 
her a little allowance so and so often, while she keeps away, to 
be stopped the instant she breaks the compact we make with 

her. And then, non c'i che dire, we must from plain practical 

472 



THE TBTTTH ABOUT CAMILLA 473 

motiyes give Mariuccia a merrier life. She is at a dangerooB 
age. We must allow her a few ribbons and gingUli, Bianca 
must take her to a few amusements^ the theater now and then^ 
now and then a nice passeggiata, and in sunmier I will send 
the two to spend a few weeks at some baths.'^ 

The reptile parent thus indirectly proved a boon to Bianca 
as well as Mariuccia, — dear Bianca^ so fond of f un^ who could 
not believe in the actuality of a duty which dictated that when 
tiie young niece looked sulky she should be taken to the theater, 
or tiiat when she might be suspected of filial compunctions, 
they should go at once for an airing and an ice. 

Bianca was useful, but not indispensable, in the shop. 

About this time, when those more frequent outings made a 
fuller wardrobe necessary, Camilla bestowed on Bianca a satin 
parasol broadly striped with black and white, which she had her- 
self carried the preceding year. The handle was finished with 
a fine fierce parrot^s-head, done in the natural colors, and having 
eyes of amber glass. The recipient of the gift was vociferous 
in admiration and thanks. 

To replace the article, Camilla bought herself a less striking 
one, stripes of black and white, so fine that the general effect 
was a dainty shimmering gray, handle a simple ivory ball. 
With this she shaded her cheek when going to the Mari gardens, 
where she walked several times a week toward sundown, drawn 
back by habit and a love she had formed for the exquisite place. 
The porter and his wife were always so glad to see her. The 
gardener was so glad to see her. He picked for her each time, 
without asking, a bouquet of his most acutely odorous flowers. 

The apartment above was closed. The a^inistrator had the 
keys. With him — a very honorable man, — Filiberti had made 
friends sufficiently to obtain that the French furniture should 
remain in its place until the present owner had decided what 
disposition to make of it. 

The beautiful old garden was the kind of which there is more 
overhead than at foot. Columnar trees towered and spread, 
weaving impenetrable shade over the avenues, where the statues 



474 THE TETJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

were black from their autumn drippings and the stone seats bad 
moss on them. In the open spaces were formal plots of green^ 
or flower-beds^ not too carefully tended in the latter years^ pre- 
serring the good tradition still of set pattern and border. The 
great fountain had been filled up, its Triton blew his conch 
above a multitude of pansies ; but in shady nooks you came upon 
basins of dampHsmelling, ivy-girded rockery, receiving a trickle 
of water from the mask of a Faun or the throat of a dolphin. 
On a grassy rise, against a background of laurel, stood a little 
temple, in the taste of the eighteenth century, with a stone 
table for its altar. 

In this charming spot Camilla often sat with Filiberti. The 
gardener kept it swept, the porter brought out chairs for them. 
Or they slowly paced tiie wsdks, and had their visit more pleas- 
antly than would have been possible in a staSj drawing-room. 

Tliat Filiberti must continue to see her after she left Casa 
Mari had gone without saying. But with the delicacy charac- 
teristic of him he hesitated to call at her house, lest his assiduity 
compromise her, for she was after all a married woman. 

He adored her, and wished her to know it, but ascribing to 
her an extreme moral fastidiousness did not permit himself to 
make love to her outright. He spoke as if all that — his fruit- 
less affection and resulting unhappiness, — should be taken for 
granted. He had luckily a thousand things to talk about out- 
side the forbidden topic. There was the news to discuss, the 
European situation, the gossip — his affairs, her affairs, the 
theaters, the new books, the new talent. His estimate of her 
opinion was so high it amounted to reverence. **My Egeria," 
he playfully called her. Occasionally he brought a friend, a 
man who would understand, a litterateur, or a traveler of mark, 
with her permission, to meet her, and agree with him later that 
she was a marvel of intelligence, as well as so beautiful still. 
It was like a very small, very choice salon she held, on some 
days. It gave her pleasure, but not unmixed with bitterness, 
because it could never be more than just so much, the situation 
could never become richer for her in any respect. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 475 

He was frank now about letting her know that he never had 
really loved before she came. The fancies of youth are not love ; 
the fragile Adelia had been looked up to like a little plaster 
image in her shrine; Donna Laura had received regard and 
gratitude^ which it had required a great deal of forbearance to 
continue in so long. Now only, late in life^ an ironical fate 
made him aware of what he had missed, what the freedom 
would mean to spend his heart upon a creature as congenial at 
every point as she was in all respects admirable. 

In return for this, without imperiling the vaunt of a noble 
reserve, she let him apprehend that she was a tired, disappointed 
soul, too, in whose desert life there derisively smiled an oasis, 
between which and herself an impassable barrier standing. 

Neither pretended to a force of feeling which might sweep 
them past their guards; they described themselves to each other 
as philosophers, well lessoned and castigated by life, and arrived 
at years of such discretion, such firmness of religious convic- 
tion, that the only state of happiness which could be happiness 
at all must be calm, open, settled, the state in fact of marriage. 

Marriage being impossible, they must find such honey as is 
to be found in friendship, high-minded and innocent friend- 
ship, — which is ever so much better than nothing, assuredly. 

Camilla did not always think so. There was a great deal of 
dough to her honey-cake. She liked Kliberti, — oh, yes, she 
found him a pleasant companion ; meat and drink to her to be 
plied with praise, tacit and explicit, by one who had in such a 
degree the thing she had been daft over since she was old enough 
to know her own tastes, the mysterious I-know-not-what that 
marked to her eyes the high-born, high-bred, high-placed in 
the world. Ersilio was not a man of rare or imposing parts, 
but he was every inch a Marquis. And Camilla knew that, had 
everything been different, he woidd have delighted to make her 
his marchioness. The tantalization of this assurance was re- 
sponsible for fits of bad humor such as vex poor mortals when 
the grapes are so near they can be smelled, but not near enough 
to be appropriated. 



476 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Had everything been di£Ferent . . . 

But then it had not been different^ and there an end. All 
being as it was, the final bootlessness of it tired her of the world 
sometimes. Her life appeared a flat failure. To have become, 
after all her vicissitudes^ a marchioness^ to have ended her career 
as a real marchioness^ liiat would have been success. 

Her thinking upon the subject ended invariably in a blind 
alley^ and the impatient exhortation to herself to be patient 
" Ci vuol paaienzat *' those truly were the only words to any 
purpose. 

It never once occurred to her — strange as this may seem,— 
that though the past could obviously not be changed, the future 
might not come off according to logical forecast. Her brain 
busied itself, often enough, with modifications of the past 
which would have produced a different present; but never did 
she picture the only event which could in any essential manner 
modify the future. Manuel would naturally outlive her. She 
as little imagined a different thing as she desired it, and to 
suppose she could desire a coronet at the cost of Manuel's life 
is like supposing she would attempt to give herself pleasure by 
stabbing her breast. It was no case of principle, or generosity, 
but of choosing what you care about most. 

She tried not to think of Manuel, to remember preferably his 
faults, — that irritating indolence ! that unconscionable careless- 
ness with money ! those attacks of childish unreason ! But she 
wanted him to prosper, — oh, ye good saints bear witness! — to 
be well, to be happy. If he should form one of those liaisons 
with which a gossiping world makes itself busy, she prayed that 
no whisper of it might reach her ears, braced though she was 
not to care. 

He was gone out of her life, she hoped, for good and alL 
She wished to forget him, and to a certain extent succeeded in 
keeping him out of her mind. But all this was not the same 
as having ceased to love him. 

Dreaming of him one night, — she was threading a sti^ge, 
tortuous alley, she thought, on her guilty way to a lover, when 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 477 

he started np before her^ threatening^ terrible . . . And she 
dropped against him without an effort to resist, saying, ^^ Yes 1 
Kill me, dear ! I have had enough of my life without you ! '^ — 
she had waked herself with a sob. 

Thinking it over as she lay in the thick darkness, she had 
found a poetical image to embody what she felt. like other 
graduates from Mademoiselle Heller's she had once known by 
heart the song of the Two Grenadiers. " It is like that with my 
love for Manuel,*' she thought. " It lies quietly in its tomb. 
But as the old soldier said he would start alive again and be up 
full-armed when his Emperor rode by, so Manuel need but ap- 
pear, be it only in a dream, and my love rushes to his arms ! '' 

The thought of him unexpectecQy confronting her (with her 
wrinkles!) in Florence, Paris, or Berlin, could contain only 
confusion and dread. But she was no heathen, thank Ood. 
Her ideas of the state beyond life were conventional, and even 
so, she was not very clear about the Church's teaching. But 
whether the resurrection preceded purgatory, or only happened 
at the sounding of the last trump, whenever Manuel and she 
were resurrected they woidd naturally look at once for each 
other. 

* No, Camilla passionately examining her conscience later to 
see if ever by one pulse she had desired to be made a widow, 
absolved herself. Over and over she had wished that she might 
never have set eyes on Manuel, and so were now free. But 
wish a wrong to one hair of his head, it was not in her to do it. 

When in her darkest hours she felt the morbid need to tor- 
ture herself with blame, she would beat her breast and say, 
**It was something in me, God forgive me, — the very temper- 
ament I was bom with, which no doubt influenced destiny. 
I never could admit that I might end among the ranks of those 
vanquished by life. My nerves, my blood, insisted that I must 
stand in the light of the smnmits, with the victorious. And 
Manuel, the weaker nature, was sacrificed. His destiny had 
to break against mine, like the pot of clay against the pot of 
iron.'' 



480 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

yUe, she felt in a little drawer under the table for those aids to 
sight which she only put on her nose in strictest privacy. 

Her hand — incredible ! — was steady as nsual, holding the 
unfolded sheet, her eyes skimmed it without one forerunniiig 
prick of tears. • . • 

She had read unmoyed several cases of misconduct and sev- 
eral more of mishap^ when she came to the head-line^ in not 
very important type, on the third page, ^^A Mysterious Acci- 
dent.'^ Almost simultaneously her eye was caught by the name 
Maria Agnellotti occuring fiu*ther down the column^ and im- 
mediately after by the name IJgo SartL Hurrying back to the 
beginning, breathless with interest, she read: ^^Bapallo. July 
29th. The community is saddened to-day by a tragedy more 
singular in its details than the ordinary tragedy of the watering 
season. The immediate mourners are the well-known and emi- 
nent artists in song, Signorina Maria Agnellotti and Signor 
IJgo Sarti. The lamented was the likewise distinguished Sig- 
nor Manuel de Segovia. . . .'' 

Camilla's heart rose on a hot surge to her mouth, but she 
kept on intently, though invaded by a trembling that made the 
lines dance before her eyes. 

"The three friends had come together from Genoa, solely 
to spend the day. They lunched in company at the Albergo 
Spada, where the guests at neighboring tables remember re- 
marking upon the good spirits of the little group. In the 
latter part of the afternoon they engaged a boat and boatman, 
and, the gentlemen being in bathing suits, had themselves rowed 
to a distance from shore, where Signori Sarti and De Segovia 
plunged in for a swimming-match, under the eyes of the lady, 
who was judge of the race. It was all fun and laughter between 
them, reports the man at the oars. The boat kept alongside 
of the swimmers, until Sarti called out with a jest to De Se- 
govia, who was ahead, that he owned himself vanquished, upon 
which the boat stopped to take him in. Signorina Agnellotti 
joined her voice to Signor Sarti's to bid their friend turn back, 
the race being at an end and the prize of victory his. He ap- 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 481 

peared not to hear, and they thought was keeping on in pride^ 
to show by how much more he could outdo the rival swimmer. 
They bade the boatman continue to follow, and themselves con- 
tinued to shout jests, finally sarcasms after him. The lady at 
last, growing impatient, desired the rower to stop, as she did 
not wish to be taken any farther from land, and the boat waited, 
its occupants thinking that the herculean swimmer, having 
sufficiently proved his prowess, would turn back. They cannot 
tell how long they had waited, before feeling alarm and starting 
once more in all haste to row. A sail-boat now came between 
them and the distant swimmer. When it passed, their eyes 
could not at once find him, confused by the change in direction 
which the passage of the other craft had made necessary. But 
the lady after a time distinguished him, as she thought, and 
the boatman rowed toward the point she indicated. The round, 
dark object upon which their eyes were fixed proved, when they 
came near it, to be a floating wooden block whose shape had de- 
ceived them. Far as eye could reach no head was visible. After 
a long vain search they hastened in, believing that De Segovia 
had climbed on to the passing sail-boat. But the sail-boat had 
come to shore, having seen and heard nothing. 

'* Manuel de Segovia was bom in Havana. . , /' Camilla 
could no longer see to read. Choking, and reaching painfully 
for breath, she covered her face with her hands, driving the 
fingernails in among her hair. 

When Angiolina came to make fast the windows for the night, 
her mistress stood before her with a face — the maid related 
afterwards, — a face that frightened her. " I am going to my 
room,*' she said, **and I do not wish to be disturbed. Do not 
under any pretext come near me until I ring. If visitors come, 
I will not see them. Do you understand? ... I have received 
bad news.'^ 

Angiolina did not sleep well that night, for uneasiness. She 
was a good, soft creature, who took an interest in the affairs of 
the family she served. 

At the usual hour next morning she prepared her signora's 



482 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

breakfast tray, and listened^ hoping for the nsnal ring. As it 
grew late^ she tiptoed to the bedroom door and laid her ear to 
it A stifled, '' Mio Diot Mio Dior' from the far end of the 
chamber, so nnnerred her that she crept back to the kitchen to 
snivel there unheard. 

After much thinking, she took the tray with the coffee and 
the roll to her mistress's door and set it on the floor outside, 
making just enough noise to attract attention. Eeturning in 
an hour or so, she saw that it had not been touched, and because 
the coffee was now cold, dejectedly carried it away. At dinner- 
time she prepared another tray and again left it at the door. As 
often as she came to peep during the evening all was untouched, 
but next morning she found that the bread had been taken, and 
she was relieved of a terror which had been growing in her breast. 

Day by day food was placed outside Camilla's door, and when 
the tray was eagerly examined it would be seen that a little of 
the bread was missing, and the strength-giving broth, and the 
strong coffee. She could be heard moving about sometimes, but 
it was feared to approach her until she should have rung. 

One evening her door unclosed at last without effect of stealth, 
and she came forth, in loose hair and loose blue robe embel- 
lished with herons, a candle in her hand. 

Slowly, dragging her slippers, like one who has little strength, 
she walked across the gold and cerise drawing-room, without 
looking at anything in it, till she came to her escritoire. She 
set down the candle, and dropping upon a little gilt chair leaned 
forward on her arms, staring at the flame which in its flicker- 
ing played over prominences that used not to be so sharp in her 
face, and mirrored itself in eyes that used not to look so 
large. 

She reached for letter-paper and pen after a time, but in- 
stead of writing spent long minutes drawing meaningless citcles 
on the blotter. Making the right effort flnally she headed her 
letter with address and date. In a few minutes more she pushed 
it all away, and let her face lie on her arms. 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 483 

She had wanted to write to Sarti^ had seen it as a pious duty 
to write to Sarti. . . . That poor friend and brother, what 
must his grief be! She wanted to write to him, so much, to 
tell him all she too felt. . . . But bringing the thing to proof, 
she found she could not. How could she ? Sarti believed that 
she had left Manuel for another. And Sarti, even before, had 
not had much reason to love her. When the famous company 
for South America was formed, she had not been willing he 
should come, from jealousy. 

And then if she wrote Sarti, would not the result perhaps be 
that Manuel's effects would be sent her? The chestfuls of 
theatrical costumes, the jewels, the armor, intolerable things 
that woidd be full of the very odor of him. His poor remnant 
of money, too, which, after deserting him, she could not have 
borne to touch. 

She coidd not write to Sarti, no. She dismissed the 
thought. 

There was Mercedes left. A task no longer to be put oflf, 
writing Mercedes and the little mother. Poor, poor things! 
She thought she was going to do it, but after the first words 
her pen stuck. . . . Mercedes had hated her, and hardly taken 
pains to hide it ; but she had not much minded the little black- 
eyed, saffrony woman's enmity, finding in the jealousy at bot- 
tom of it a compliment. And the little mother as well as Mer- 
cedes must have hated her, after she learned that Manuel's wife 
had left him. They would not believe her letter sincere. . . . 

She laid down her pen, and with absent fingers began pinch- 
ing the warm wax of the candle, while she stared at the little 
flame. 

She turned sharply, hearing some one enter the room. Bianca 
stood by the door, with hands clasped, and scared eyes fixed 
on her. 

"You, Bianca?*' 

Detecting no anger in the voice, Bianca came forward at a 
run. She stopped just short of contact with her sister, and 
dropping on her knees began to cry. 



484 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

Camilla reached out and touched her^ not without fondness, 
upon which Bianca took a stride nearer on her knees, and threw 
her arms around the blue-robed figure. 

** DonH cry ! ^ spoke Camilla, quietly as before. ^* Am I cry- 
ing? I have not one tear left in my body. I have wept them 
all. My heart is dry as a clod of dust. I have come to the 
end of my capacity to feel. Though the world should go up 
in a cataclysm, I should not feel. So you need not cry for me 
now. . . . But how does it happen you are here, Bianca ? Why 
are you not in Leghorn?*' 

^^Ah, I have been in the house many days. I saw the bad 
news when you did, and I left the others at the baths to come 
home and be of use to you if I coidd. It was I who made the 
good condensed broth for you, to keep up your strength, and 
the black, black co£Fee. What I have suffered to think of you 
shut in there alone with your suffering. . . J* 

"What day is it, Bianca ?*' 

"Of the week? Friday.'' 

" Of the month." 

" The sixth." 

"Seven days. Seven days. He has had a funeral function 
lasting seven dajrs. Never, he can say it to himself, was a hus- 
band mourned more devotedly. I have lain day and night, 
day and night, Bianca, recalling every hour we had together, 
trying as earnestly to remember as I tried before to forget. I 
have thought every possible thought a thousand thousand times 
over. If I slept, it was only to feel the cold of his dripping 
curls. I have tortured myself with remorse, and made repara- 
tion to his memory with prayers and tears." 

"Ah, believe that I can understand, my Camilla! I only 
saw him once, when he came to the door at Villa Clelia, and 
I gave him your address in writing. But should I live a hun- 
dred years I could not forget him. Never have I seen a man 
80 personable — Bello ! Orandef " 

Camilla nodded distantly, " Yes ! " 

"And to lose him! . • ." Bianca went on, in the swing of 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 485 

sympathy, *'To lose him like that, by an accident! And such 
a miserable, unnecessary accident, my Ood ! '^ 

^^An accident? ... It was not an accident," said Camilla, 
as she might have said, ^'It rains.'' 

^^An accident only in a sense. What happened was, alas, 
but too natural. He miscalculated his strength, a great fatigue 
overtook him. . • ." 

^^ Not even in that sense an accident Mistake his strength, 
Manuel? Grow prematurely exhausted, he? Not likely." 

''But then. . . ." Bianca drew away, the better to see her 
sister's face, and after trying to read it, asked in an awed tone, 
'^ Not an accident, Camilla ? Do you mean that it was a case 
of . . . . ?" 

''No, no. It was no more suicide than killing a person in 
heat of blood without premeditation is the same thing as mur- 
der. Oh, I know well enough how it happened. ... I can 
see it all so well. . . ." She fell silent, with her eyes on the 
floor, and the look of seeing it all as she said. After a moment 
she took up aloud: 

''The bright, hot day and the sparkling sea, — the merry 
partita, — the lunch, — and, with the great heat of the after- 
noon, the natural desire for a plunge in the sea. . . . There 
they are, out in the boat. The Agnellotti was the sweetheart 
of course of one or the other, — a young woman as well fitted 
as any I have seen to sow disharmony between friends. My 
belief is that she was Sarti's but had her eye on Manuel. It 
was she, I am sure, who proposed the race. So they swim out 
toward the open, each straining like a true man to show him- 
self the stronger before a woman. When Sarti yields, Manuel 
keeps on for a few strokes, in pride of victory. And then, 
when he is far enough from the others, disgust seizes him for 
that point of hostility which exists in any gara, — a sense, who 
knows ? of beginning change between him and his friend. And 
disgust for returning into the boat with them. Disgust finally 
for returning to the land. Disgust with life. ... He was 
given to that, you know, Bianca. ' Why does one wish to live? ' 



486 THE TBUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

he has said to me more than once^ ^ Diane, let us die together I 
Why does one wish to live?' And now it was npon him. 
^What is the good of going back to land?' Perhaps the 
thought came, ^ Diane is not there. I have lost her!/ He 
felt too sharply of a sudden the emptiness of life. And he 
went on swimming, he simply went on swimming, away and 
away from the land. It was not suicide, no, — it was a great 
boy satisfying a whim. The occasion seemed too good. Oh, 
I can feel his triumph. ^ Thus I wash my hands of it ! Thus 
I leave it all behind me, and go my way, to the ends of the 
sea ! to the confines of the world ! ' And his courage would 
not weaken, you know, Bianca. I know him so well! When 
the strength to take himself even half a yard further from the 
land had left him, he would drink the sea-water with joy, and 
go down glad that he had had his way ! '' After a moment 
during which she had strangely glowed with fellow-feeling, 
"They say one does not suffer much in drowning,'* she re- 
marked coolly again, then with a little more evidence of emo- 
tion, covering her eyes to shut out something, " I hope he has 
not come back to shore." 

"No," Bianca quickly assured her, "I have looked in the 
papers every day." 

" I have prayed and prayed that he might have his wish in 
that." She rose as if to walk away, but sat down again, weak 
in the knees. "We must ask the parroco what will take the 
place of laying him at rest in consecrated ground. We must 
think of having Masses said. . . . And Bianca, to-morrow you 
must go out, the first thing, and get for me samples of mourn- 
ing stuffs. And you must pass by Pineider's and order letter- 
paper, with a black border — " she measured against her finger, 
" like that, a centimeter and a half in width. . . ." She would 
again have left her chair, but again dropped sitting, "My 
head spins ! " 

"Because you are tutta sfinitaf cried Bianca in reproach 
and alarm. " Because you have taken nothing solid for so long! 
Camilla, do you feel ill?" 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 487 

^' No. No. I am so constituted, it appears, that nothing can 
kill me, — or so much as shake my health, one would say. I 
am made of iron. So much the better. So much the better,'* 
she shrugged, "since one has got to live!'* 

"Made of iron? DonH imagine it, my dear! Nobody is 
made of iron. Wait where you are till I come back. I rfiall 
not be five minutes.'* 

Camilla was amusing herself with crumbs of candle-grease, 
when she became faintly interested in the sensations of her in- 
side, the gnawing of sharp, sharp, famished little teeth. She 
was not sorry to see Bianca appear with her tray. 

"Here we are I Let me cut up the chicken for you,'' said 
the good sister. "Not, mind you, that it is tough! Here is 
your bread, dear, and your salt." She poured out a wineglass 
of white Capri, " Eat and drink now, da bravat ** 

Camilla ate with real interest for a minute or two. But 
soon Bianca, affectionately watchful, saw her eyes fasten on 
the wall, in a manner denoting that her mind was elsewhere. 

" In the end it is perhaps better for him that he died," said 
she, while revolving a morsel in her mouth. " He had so little 
patience with the inevitable things of life, such as aging, losing 
your power, growing ugly. The things of youth were all he 
cared for." 

"A little more, Camilla. Ooraggio! Take a little more 
of the chicken." 

" No more. — And for me, I shall not be thinking far inside 
of myself, as so often, when I was superficially giving my at- 
tention to this and that, ^He exposes himself so foolishly. 
He takes no care of his threat. He will lose his voice, and 
then what?* Or, ^He takes no care of his money, the day 
will come when he will know distress.' Or, *He smokes too 
much, it is injurious to the vocal chords. A tenor who has 
lost his voice, what place for him is there in this hard world ? ' 
— Now, the dangers are all past. I shall have the peace of 
that knowledge at least." 

" Camilluccia, you are stopping before you have eaten enough 



488 THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

to do you good. Gome^ dear, come. A bit of this schiacdaia 
and another glass of wine. Yon like schiacciata, yon know. 
Open your month. Take it to please Bianca tua!'' 

Camilla allowed herself to be fed a few mouthfuls like a 
young bird. When she opened her lips to receive the bite, 
Bianca, with intent eyes following every motion, unconsciously 
mimicked her. 

Camilla who saw it did not laugh, but watching the self- 
forgetful face, touched the cheek after a moment with an af- 
fectionate hand. " You are a kind thing ! '* she said. " But for 
the love of Heaven don't begin again to cry! Tell me in- 
stead what has happened all these days while I was shut in." 

^'U, Madonna, I was forgetting. They are on the table in 
the antechamber." She jumped up and ran to get the accu- 
mulated letters and cards. Camilla glanced them over and 
picked out one. Bianca, an eye on the coronet adorning the 
envelope, gave her report, "The Marchese Filiberti has been 
here every day to inquire. He came back, like me, as soon as 
he read it in the paper.'' 

" A good soul ! " Camilla sighed gently when she had read 
his letter. ** He has the tact of one who really feels for others.'* 

She again arose, and though she could now stand without 
difficulty, Bianca took hold of her, to support. " You will go 
to bed," she cosied her, "and you will sleep, I promise you, 
I ! See how much better you can walk already ! They are ef- 
fectual, eh, Bianca's old-fashioned remedies?" 

She was helping her toward the bedroom door, when Camilla 
resisted. Her face expressed repugnance. "Not in there! 
Not in there! Is Mariuccia's room in order?" 

" Certainly ! In two minutes I can make up the bed." 

" Let us go to Mariuccia's room, and in a different bed hope 
to find different dreams." 

Camilla, upon first waking, wondered where she was. That 
colored print of the Virgin standing on the new moon puzzled 
her, and the window in a new place. . . . She had slept so 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 489 

soundly that the remembrance of her grief did not at once 
come back. She only vaguely knew that there was some rea- 
son for the weight on her chest. 

When the mists of sleep had dispersed she lay for a while^ 
considering, then rang for her coffee and made herself eat more 
than she wanted, in the thought that it would give her strength. 
She then got up. 

After examining her face in the mirror, with some degree of 
dismay, she tried with her fingers to bring back the nourishing 
blood into the skin. After examining her hair, she fed the roots 
with a fragrant oil. She made a painstaking and very com- 
plete toilette. 

She was filing her nails when her arms dropped, struck with 
helplessness, and she closed her eyes, breathing hard. . . . 

She jumped up, as if started by a spring, and shook herself, 
desperately resolute. ** If I let myself, I shall break. I must 
seek new interests, a new life I '^ 

When she stood dressed for the street, she sent Angiolina to 
the nearest piazza for a cab, and swearing to Bianca that she 
was fit to be trusted alone, went out to purchase a mourning- 
bonnet. 

Filiberti, coming in the afternoon, was met with a pale, firm 
smile. As he grasped both her hands and bent over them, sor- 
rowfully moved, she checked the rising flow of his sympathy. 
'^ One thing I must beg of you, — that there be not a word to- 
day about myself I Myself, I am precisely what I wish to for- 
get. I have welcomed the hope of your visit as a means of 
escape. . . . Come, tell me about Camaldoli, what was said 
there, what was done. Be cheerful, come! Divert me I Dis- 
tract me 1 '^ 



CHAPTEB V 

WHEN; after the proper and decorous year of mourning, 
Camilla became Marchesa Filiberti^ though there was 
abundance of talk, there was not much outcry. The aristocratic 
public had had time to grow used to the idea of this marriage, 
and, ''Alia fin dei conti," said one fair Florentine to another, 
'^ the thing is less serious than as if they were younger ! ^^ 

The gentle Ersilio moreover had numerous and warm friends, 
who were ready for the sake of pleasing him to show friendli- 
ness to his wife. Many, indeed, were so weakly human as to 
rejoice at seeing him, after those long years of Donna Laura, 
companioned in a way that promised so much more pleasure. 
And the sposa was not exactly nobody. " Through my wife's 
veins flows some of the best blood in Italy,'^ Ersilio told his 
intimates. 

So Camilla had no need to use deep arts to make herself 
accepted. She naturally did what she could to produce and 
sustain a favorable impression. 

Marquis and Marchioness, as soon as married, made the round 
of the Italian cities where he had relatives and friends. He 
was boyishly eager to show her oflp. 

His eldest sister, at Padova, entertained them with irreproach- 
able cordiality. But being a very old woman, she sometimes 
inadvertently thought aloud, and once, with her eyes square on 
her sister-in-law, she let escape, '* Commediante!" Ersilio 
fbrtunately did not overhear. In Parma, on the other hand, 
Camilla's success was perfect. Ersilio's niece, the young duch- 
ess of Sanseverino, showed a decided fancy for her. 

The wedding-trip at an end, they took up their abode in Casa 

Mari, Camilla's excellent idea, doing away with the necessity 

400 



THE TRUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 491 

of moving the gold-medal furniture. Piliberti^s fortime was 
not large, but^ Camilla remaining anonjrmously at the head 
of the Bugiani negozio, a fairly noble scale of Uving was pos- 
sible to them. It did not cost as much as it appeared to^ you 
may be sure. 

There they are, this year of grace 1913. Camilla^ at fifty, is 
to Ersilio, at sixty-five, still young and beautiful. Always she 
will have that advantage, of being in his eyes young and beauti- 
ful. Ersilio is growing near-sighted, and his wife coaxes him 
not to put on glasses. 

So as to lose nothing by any comparison with Donna Laura, 
Camilla has taken up ^tbe charities dropped from the poor 
lady's hands. As patroness of an orphan asylum, which comes 
near to meaning its manager, she is almost at her best. And 
she loves the part, loves to busy herself, to do all things well, 
to make people grateful to her. Her smile is much more af- 
fable, as she distributes prizes, than was her smile when so 
long ago she played she was Principessa Margherita. 

Ersilio being religious, it has behooved her to become reli- 
gious also, in which she finds no diflSculty. Nor is she there- 
fore a hypocrite. If she performs a good churchwoman's 
duties for the present perfunctorily, she has the right founda- 
tion for a true and lively religion when it shall please the Spirit 
to touch her: With all her pride towards fellow-mortals, a 
simple and matter-of-course humility towards Heaven. 

At fifty one does not ask so much of life as at twenty-five, 
and Camilla never expected to get everything. ^*This makes 
up for that/' she always said, and was willing to pay some- 
thing for what she wanted most. So she is well content. A 
marchesa, solidly settled, respected. If her marchese is not 
always amusing company, and life not always exciting, is the 
calm and secure port ever so much fun as, at its best, the voy- 
age? Yet safe port is what every ship wants at last. . . . 
She does not find it irksome, either, trying to please a man so 
proud of her, so delicately considerate, so eager to give her 
in everything her own way. Filiberti is very happy with her. 



492 THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

That he knows about her origin and early circmnstances 
simplifies everything^ after all. She has discovered in herself 
a shrinking from being caught in a lie by Ersilio^ who cherishes 
such blind respect for the character of his Egeria. She is in 
these days very^ very careful. 

Bianca comes to see her^ in the evening mostly, they sit in 
her own vairt room. And she driyes in her victoria -they 
cannot afford an auto, but a victoria with two bay horses, two 
men in plum-colored liveries with gold buttons, has more real 
style to it, anyhow, — to see them all at Villa Clelia, where 
they are living together once more. The other family was 
**sent to the devil*' by Antenore, as he tells the story, when 
he had got his cropful of their encroachments and imperti- 
nences. The woman picked his flowers while his back was 
turned, and secretly sold them, he discovered. The children 
ate his green fruit. When finally the sprinkler was missing 
off his watering-pot, that settled the thing. 

Now, thanks to God, they are cosily by themselves, and aD 
well pleased. Battistina smiling mistily over the return of 
her puteie; Bianca delighted to have the trip down town to 
business and up again in the tram, where she is always sure to 
find an acquaintance or two; Mariuccia pleased like the rest, 
because she is nearer the home of a black-eyed young son of a 
mounted cardbiniere with whom, it is more than suspected; 
Mariuccia fa alVamore. 

"We must marry that girl young,** is Camilla's word, and 
she holds herself ready to furnish a portion whenever the match 
shall be arranged. 

So we leave them, and glancing back at the story's end over 
the career of its dubiously qualified heroine, are prompted by 
our misgivings to hope that an undue indulgence towards bet 
may not have made of these pages a snare to the gentle and 
young. If through the weak partiality of the author any have 
been betrayed into danger of liking Camilla better than she de- 
serves, we nobly send them to re-temper their souls in the con- 



THE TEUTH ABOUT CAMILLA 493 

templation of truly beautiful characters^ — Jennie Deans^ for in- 
stance^ or Soeur Simplice. 

But if any, of sterner spirit, altogether reject her, counting 
nothing but her lies and secret smallnesses, then we stand up for 
our black pearl, and thus persuade them: 

As the ambition to be in all things, always, admirable, is 
itself admirable, so the desire to appear invariably superior, 
splendid, is far from ignoble. Low natures never attempt it. 

Camilla shall be pardoned because of that sustained impulse 
which ranges her among creators : the vital impulse to produce 
a fine thing, though it be only Herself in the part of a perfec- 
tion, and she must manage with what materials she has. 

She is in her vigor and has still, it may be presumed, long 
to live. On some occasion the Great Artificer perhaps will 
say, ^' I need for my work an instrument which can be trusted 
to hold firm imder stress. • . . Ah, yes, there is my servant 
Camilla !'* 

As perhaps the Guardian of Sparrows said earlier, ^' There 
. is my servant Hannah Northmere, faithful soul, whose old age 
I wish to see cared for with great particularity. ... I will 
send her Camilla.'* 

At the Beltrame^s one day Marchesa Piliberti, who continued 
to employ her, let fall, without much thinking about them, 
words which we will quote as showing those who doubt she will 
be saved, that closed against her forever are in fact the gates 
of Hell. 

Emilia, who made a point of serving the Marchesa in person, 
knelt at her feet turning up the hem of the new skirt, and 
undeterred by a mouthful of pins gossiped as was her habit, 
to keep the customer in patience and make the work light to 
herself. That little Eicci, the Marchesa perhaps remembered, 
who had sat in the waiting room once with her, when she could 
not be immediately served? . . . Not pretty, this Eleonora 
Eicci, but with dark-ringed eyes which no one could fail to 
observe, and an interesting look of having been tragically un- 
happy. She was there that day to order a modest costume in 



494 THE TETJTH ABOUT CAMILLA 

which to be married. A professor whose pupil she had been 
was wedding her, after disgrace that though undeserved would 
have deterred a less good and simple-hearted man. And now, 
it was no secret except to him^ — warmed^ fed, fattened, the 
ungrateful minx made him ridiculous. 

There was a great deal to the story. Camilla heard it all. 
When it was done, reflectively, with no concern at the moment 
to make an impression, ^^ Bender evil for good is a thing I 
never oonld do/' she said. 



XHB SND